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French Open - Roland Garros
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 8, 2019. Australia’s Ashleigh Barty celebrates with the trophy after winning the final against Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

June 9, 2019

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Evonne Goolagong Cawley led the way as Australia hailed their new Grand Slam tennis champion Ash Barty on Sunday after the proudly indigenous 23-year-old ended the country’s 46-year wait for a French Open women’s singles champion.

Margaret Court and Goolagong Cawley between them won four of the first six titles at Roland Garros after the dawn of the open era and the lack of Australian success since has reflected a wider decline of the women’s game Down Under.

That Barty’s victory over Marketa Vondrousova on Saturday was only the second for an Australian in a Grand Slam women’s final in the 39 years since Goolagong Cawley won her seventh major at Wimbledon made the outpouring all the more understandable.

Goolagong Cawley, Australia’s first indigenous global sports star, was Barty’s role model as a child and the 67-year-old said she was delighted not only at the breakthrough but also the style of game the Queenslander displayed in her win.

“What a wonderful result for Australia and how exciting that another Aboriginal has won at the French,” she said on Sunday.

“Tennis Australia and all lovers of tennis here and around the world will be delighted by the natural skills and flair Ash possesses.

“Now they have developed into a beautiful game full of artistry, movement and power. It was there for all to marvel at in Paris.”

The decline in the Australian men’s game from the dominant days of the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s came more slowly than in the women’s but has been no less marked with no Grand Slam champions since Lleyton Hewitt at Wimbledon in 2002.

Most concerning for some in Australia has been the on and off-court antics of the two men who at various times have looked most likely to break that drought, Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios.

Court, a Christian minister whose record 24 Grand Slam singles titles spanned the end of the amateur and start of the professional era, said she was particularly delighted at Barty’s demeanor.

“She is a very good role model,” the 76-year-old told the Western Australian newspaper.

“She is good for our nation. I think she is very refreshing. I was always taught when I was young that I was a role model for the young, a role model for the game and a role model for our nation. I was taught that.

“It was always our nation first and I think it’s so sad to see some players in the men’s side with such great talent, thinking they are bigger than the game. It’s sad.”

Sunday was a day of rejoicing rather than recriminations for most Australians, however, and 11-times major champion Rod Laver, Hewitt and Kyrgios were among a plethora of former Australian number ones to post their congratulations.

There was also a heartfelt congratulatory note from Australia’s most recent Grand Slam champion Sam Stosur, the 35-year-old who won the 2011 U.S. Open but was unable to build on that success.

“So happy and proud of you,” the world number 96 posted on Instagram next to a picture of Barty nursing the Suzanne-Lenglen Cup.

“Always knew you would achieve this incredible success! You have such a gift and determination and now the trophy to show …”

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

Source: OANN

U.S. President Donald Trump visits Britain
Marine One is seen outside Buckingham Palace during the state visit of U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump to Britain, in London, Britain, June 3, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

June 3, 2019

By Steve Holland and Guy Faulconbridge

LONDON (Reuters) – Donald Trump will plunge into Britain’s Brexit crisis on Tuesday and is likely to demand that Prime Minister Theresa May’s successor ban China’s Huawei from 5G networks as thousands of protesters mock the U.S. president across London.

Feted by Queen Elizabeth and heir Prince Charles on the first day of his state visit to Britain, Trump turns to politics on Tuesday with talks in Downing Street, a news conference scheduled for 1245 GMT and a dinner that could include leaders of Brexit, such as Boris Johnson, the favourite to succeed May.

Trump brings demands for the United States’ closest ally in Europe, including calls by his envoys for a tougher British stance towards telecoms giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

At a lavish banquet in Buckingham Palace, Trump praised the queen as “a great, great woman” and said the United States and United Kingdom shared an enduring alliance.

“As we honour our shared victory and heritage, we affirm the common values that will unite us long into the future; freedom, sovereignty, self-determination, the rule of law and reference for the rights given to us by almighty God,” he said.

The state visit, promised by May back in January 2017 when she became the first foreign leader to meet him after he took office, is cast as a chance to celebrate Britain’s “special relationship” with the United States, boost trade links and reaffirm security cooperation.

But the collapse of May’s premiership over Brexit and Trump’s penchant for ignoring the conventions of modern diplomacy have made the trip one of the most unconventional state visits in recent British history.

Before Air Force One even touched down on British soil, Trump praised Johnson, the former foreign secretary and leading Brexit campaigner, and advised a sharp exit from the European Union on Oct. 31 with or without a deal. [nL8N2375UR] [nL8N2380P0]

Trump also called for arch-Brexiteer Nigel Farage, a scourge of May’s ruling Conservative Party, to conduct talks with the EU.

BREXIT, BLIMP AND CHINA

Brexit is the most significant geopolitical move for the United Kingdom since World War Two and if it happens, London will be more reliant on the United States as ties loosen with the other 27 members of the EU.

Huawei will top talks in London after the British government appeared to defy Trump administration demands and allow the Chinese company a limited role in building 5G networks.

“We’ve been clear: Our ask is that our allies and our partners and our friends don’t do anything that would endanger our shared security interests or restrict our ability to share sensitive information,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

The Trump administration has told allies not to use Huawei’s 5G technology and equipment because of fears it would allow China to spy on sensitive communications and data. Huawei denies it is, or could be, a vehicle for Chinese intelligence.

Britain’s so-called special relationship with the United States is an enduring alliance, but some British voters see Trump as crude, volatile and opposed to their values on issues ranging from global warming to his treatment of women.

A giant inflatable blimp depicting Trump as a pouting baby in a diaper will fly outside the British parliament in London on Tuesday ahead of what is expected to be one of the city’s largest protests against a foreign leader. [nL4N23A3F9]

In central London, tens of thousands of protesters are expected to take part in a “Carnival of Resistance” later in the day to voice their opposition to the president. Among those taking part will be environmental activists, anti-racism campaigners and women’s rights protesters.

While some Britons protest, May and Trump will hold a business breakfast at St James’ Palace with U.S. firms such as Lockheed Martin Corp, JP Morgan Chase and Co, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, construction company Bechtel and cybersecurity and data analytics firm Splunk Inc

May will present Trump with a framed reproduction of the Atlantic Charter, which hung on wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s wall and set out principles of free trade and collective security that formed the basis of the postwar peace. [nL8N23A50K]

As part of the visit, Trump will be given a tour of the Churchill War Rooms – a labyrinthine bunker-turned-museum underneath London, and he will take part in events to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, which turned the course of the war.

Trump, May and their spouses will also view a ceremonial copy of the American Declaration of Independence. For lunch, they will have crab followed by beef fillet, and a meringue-based pudding known as ‘Eton mess’.

While Trump and May sit down to political talks inside May’s Downing Street office, Philip May and Melania Trump will attend a garden party and take a guided tour of the building. [nL8N23A3P6]

The U.S. first lady will receive a tea set created by designer Emma Bridgewater from the prime minister and her husband.

(Reporting by Steve Holland and Guy Faulconbridge; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Additional reporting by Andrew MacAskill, William James, Kate Holton, Kylie MacLellan and Michael Holden; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Source: OANN

Carrie Severino, chief counsel to the Judicial Crisis Network, defended President Trump’s decision to add a citizenship question to the Census and suggested that debate over the issue indicated a deeper problem.

“This is something that should be totally unremarkable,” Severino said on Saturday while appearing on “America’s News HQ.”

“The fact it’s even being challenged shows a disturbing trend towards attempts to push back on the very concept of citizenship and its frightening to think there could be several justices in the [Supreme] Court who would suggest that’s not even an appropriate question.”

The citizenship question faced review by the Supreme Court which is expected to announce its ruling on the issue in the Summer of 2019. The question came under scrutiny after news surfaced that one of its proponents pushed the questions as a way to help Republicans electorally.

JUDGE NAPOLITANO ON CENSUS: ‘THE ONLY QUESTION YOU ARE OBLIGED TO ANSWER IS THE TOTAL NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO LIVE THERE’

It also faced criticism from Democrats who predicted it would skew estimates that contributed to decisions about federal funding.

But for Severino, the question’s inclusion was “common sense.” “This is a question that should really be unremarkable. The citizenship question has been on some form of the U.S. Census for the vast majority of its history,” she said.

She added that “it is very foundational that a country ought to know how many citizens it has. It’s something the United Nations recommends its member nations do.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Elizabeth B. Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, argued that was just a “cover up” reason since citizenship information was already available from other sources.

Severino, in response, pushed back on the idea that people would refuse to answer the question, saying that they decline to answer that question at similar rates to the question of whether they’re married or not.

Source: Fox News Politics

Employees at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are quitting at a rapid clip as Secretary Sonny Perdue prepares to move forward with plans to relocate two offices far outside the Washington, D.C., Beltway.

Federal employees at the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) – two small but important agencies within the USDA – are unhappy with Perdue’s plan, announced last August, to move the majority of their staff from current offices in the capital to an area closer the country’s agricultural centers.

“This move does not serve a public purpose,” Peter Winch, a representative for the American Federation of Government Employees, a union that represents ERS workers, told Fox News. “Employees don’t want to move, and it doesn’t make sense for them to move.”

US FARMERS HURT BY TRADE WAR GETTING $16 BILLION BOOST, US AGRICULTURE SECRETARY SAYS

Winch added that since ERS employees joined AFGE earlier this month, six employees have already quit their jobs with the government agency in response to the planned move. He said overall staffing is down to 209 from 300 during the Obama administration.

A Washington Post report cited an estimate that the ERS used to see roughly one “non-retirement” departure per month – but that pace has doubled since October. NIFA reportedly has also seen people leave.

Federal employees at the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) – two small but important agencies within the USDA – are unhappy with Perdue’s plan to move the majority of their staff from their current offices within the capital to an area closer the country’s agricultural centers. (iStock)

Federal employees at the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) – two small but important agencies within the USDA – are unhappy with Perdue’s plan to move the majority of their staff from their current offices within the capital to an area closer the country’s agricultural centers. (iStock)

Perdue said in a statement to Fox News that the move was meant “to improve performance and the services these agencies provide.” The secretary of agriculture added that the planned move would bring the department’s scientists closer to “stakeholders” and “customers” such as Midwest farmers.

“It’s been our goal to make USDA the most effective, efficient, and customer-focused department in the entire federal government,” Perdue said. “We don’t undertake these relocations lightly, and we are doing it to improve performance and the services these agencies provide.”

Perdue added: “We will be placing important USDA resources closer to many stakeholders, most of whom live and work far from Washington, D.C. We will be saving money for the taxpayers and improving our ability to retain more employees in the long run.”

The goal of the ERS, however, is to provide statistical information to lawmakers in Washington, while NIFA works to fund hundreds of millions of dollar annually in research in the agricultural sector.

HISTORIC FLOODS IN MIDWEST HAVE FARMERS WORRIED ABOUT THEIR FUTURE

Congressional Democrats are scrambling to try and block the move.

“This parochial idea of, like, ‘Washington messes everything up. Let’s move it out of town’ overlooks the important role that this agency plays,” Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, told The Washington Post. “There’s just a heightened level of concern about this administration, generally, about data collection and science.”

Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue said in a statement sent to Fox News that the move is meant “to improve performance and the services these agencies provide.” The secretary of agriculture added that the planned move would bring the department’s scientists closer to “stakeholders” and “customers” such as Midwest farmers. (iStock)

Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue said in a statement sent to Fox News that the move is meant “to improve performance and the services these agencies provide.” The secretary of agriculture added that the planned move would bring the department’s scientists closer to “stakeholders” and “customers” such as Midwest farmers. (iStock)

Critics, including former USDA officials, say the move would weaken the agencies, reduce their influence with lawmakers and provide little benefit to the farming community.

Winch argued that weakening the agencies’ influence in Washington is at least part of the point. The NIFA funds grants that go into researching the effects the agriculture sector has on climate change – which the Trump administration has tried to downplay – and Perdue was allegedly upset by NIFA’s policy to support LGBT members of the 4-H youth farming organization.

The president’s 2020 budget has also proposed slashing funding to ERS research from $87 million to $61 million and cutting 160 jobs, while Perdue has suggested moving the agency from under the USDA’s science arm to being supervised by the USDA’s chief economist, a political wing of the department.

“There is some sort of punitive motivation,” Winch said. “Someone has made a negative judgment about these agencies.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Perdue and his staff have narrowed the list of places where the two agencies could go down to three from an original 130 — with Kansas City, the state of Indiana and North Carolina’s research triangle in the Raleigh-Durham area on the shortlist. St. Louis, Mo., and Madison, Wis., are two alternate locations.

Perdue is expected to make the announcement of where the agencies will move as soon as Friday, but it remains unclear whether the two agencies will actually leave Washington.

The USDA’s own inspector general is currently looking into whether Perdue has the legal authority to move these agencies, while the House Appropriations Committee’s draft bill of agricultural appropriations, which was released earlier this week, prohibits the USDA from using funds to move agencies outside of the Washington area. Trump’s 2020 budget proposal wants $15.5 million to relocate ERS and $9.5 million to relocate NIFA.

“We continue to believe that the USDA lacks the legal authority to carry out this proposal,” Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., said in a statement earlier this spring.  “However, even if it had such authority, USDA has not done the proper analysis of the cost and benefits, and this proposal will harm agriculture research and our constituents.”

Source: Fox News Politics

FILE PHOTO: Anadarko Petroleum Corporation is seen in The Woodlands
FILE PHOTO: Anadarko Petroleum Corporation is seen in The Woodlands, Texas, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Loren Elliott/File Photo

May 6, 2019

(Reuters) – Anadarko Petroleum Corp said on Monday that its board backed a $38 billion bid from Occidental Petroleum Corp, adding pressure on rival Chevron Corp to raise its offer or walk away from the takeover contest.

Occidental submitted a new offer of $76 per share to Anadarko on Sunday, structured as 78 percent cash and 22 percent stock, as opposed to an even cash/stock split previously, removing a requirement for any deal to receive the approval of Occidental’s shareholders.

Anadarko said its board has unanimously determined that the revised Occidental proposal constitutes a “superior proposal” and that it intends to terminate the Chevron merger agreement and will pay Chevron a $1 billion termination fee.

(Reporting by Shanti S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

Source: OANN


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NHL notebook: Karlsson signs $92 million deal with Sharks

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-San Jose Sharks at St. Louis Blues
FILE PHOTO: May 17, 2019; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (65) shoots during the first period in game four of the Western Conference Final of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports - 12726592

June 18, 2019

All-Star defenseman Erik Karlsson signed an eight-year deal to remain with the San Jose Sharks. The team did not release contract figures, but multiple reports on Monday said it’s worth about $11.5 million per year — $92 million total.

His contract will be among the NHL’s richest in annual average value. Connor McDavid of Edmonton is the league’s highest-paid player, with a $12.5 million annual average value.

Karlsson, 29, could have become the league’s marquee free agent this offseason as he reached the end of the seven-year, $45.5 million contract he signed with the Ottawa Senators, who selected him No. 15 overall pick in the 2008 NHL Draft. He is a two-time winner of the NHL’s Norris Trophy (2012 and 2015) and a six-time All-Star.

Limited to 53 games last season with a groin injury, Karlsson had 45 points (three goals, 42 assists). In 680 career NHL games, he has 563 points (129 goals, 434 assists).

–Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel recently vetoed a trade, and the team is no longer seeking to move him, general manager Jim Rutherford said on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh.

Kessel, a 13-year veteran with 357 goals and 466 assists in his career, reportedly nixed a trade to the Minnesota Wild, which were not on Kessel’s list of approved trade destinations.

Kessel, 31, had 27 goals and 55 assists in 82 games for the Penguins last season, his fourth with the team. He helped Pittsburgh win the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017. He is under contract through the 2021-22 season.

–The New York Rangers acquired defenseman Jacob Trouba from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for defenseman Neal Pionk and the 20th overall pick in the 2019 NHL draft.

Trouba, 25, set career highs in assists (42) and points (50) last season, playing in all 82 regular-season games for the first time in his career. Among defensemen, he tied for ninth in the league in assists and was 13th in points.

Trouba, selected by Winnipeg with the ninth pick in the 2012 draft, has played in 408 games for the Jets in the past six seasons, with 137 assists and 42 goals. Pionk, 23, has appeared in 101 games for the Rangers in the past two seasons, with 33 assists and seven goals.

–The Anaheim Ducks announced Dallas Eakins as their head coach. Eakins, 52, most recently was head coach of the Ducks’ American Hockey League affiliate, the San Diego Gulls.

Eakins also has NHL head coaching experience, leading the Edmonton Oilers to a 36-63-14 record from 2013-15. He played for eight teams across a 10-year NHL career as a defenseman, scoring no goals and adding nine assists.

Eakins replaces Randy Carlyle, who was fired as Ducks coach in February after a dreadful 2-15-4 stretch where Anaheim lost 12 straight games (0-8-4) from Dec. 18-Jan. 15. General manager Bob Murray served as interim coach for the rest of the season, leading the Ducks to a 14-11-1 record.

–The Ottawa Senators re-signed left winger Anthony Duclair on a one-year, $1.65 million contract.

Duclair, who was acquired in a February trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets, could have become a restricted free agent this offseason. The 23-year-old had 33 points (19 goals, 14 assists) in a combined 74 games with Columbus and Ottawa last season.

Duclair, a third-round draft pick of the New York Rangers in 2013, broke into the NHL as a 19-year-old with New York in the 2014-15 season. He has 122 career points (56 goals, 66 assists) in 287 games with five teams.

–The Columbus Blue Jackets re-signed left wing Markus Hannikainen to a one-year contract for the 2019-20 season. The Athletic reported the deal is worth $750,000.

Hannikainen, 26, recorded seven points (four goals, three assists) in 44 games with the Blue Jackets in 2018-19. He set career highs in goals, points and games played.

The Blue Jackets originally signed Hannikainen, a native of Finland, in April 2015. He played four years before that in Liiga, Finland’s top professional league.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

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Pound at 5-1/2-month low as Johnson leads, Aussie vulnerable

Pound coins are seen in the photo illustration taken in Manchester, Britain
Pound coins are seen in the photo illustration taken in Manchester, Britain September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Phil Noble/Illustration

June 18, 2019

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO (Reuters) – The British pound on Tuesday languished near this year’s low on rising worries Boris Johnson, the front-runner to replace UK Prime Minister Theresa May, could put Britain on a path towards a dreaded no-deal Brexit.

The Australian dollar is also at its lowest levels since the flash crash of early January, hit by growing expectations of another rate cut by the country’s central bank and by the specter of a further slowdown in China – Australia’s largest export market.

The yen and the euro were steadier, with investors holding out for trading clues from policy-setting meetings by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan as well as a conference organized by the European Central Bank, all scheduled this week.

“While major currencies were little moved now, when you look at market moves over the past week or so, many commodity currencies and emerging market currencies are weak, reflecting broad risk-off sentiment,” said Masashi Hashimoto, senior analyst at MUFG Bank.

The U.S-China trade frictions and rising geopolitical tensions in the Strait of Hormuz after recent attacks on tankers are all undermining risk sentiment, he said.

Worries about Brexit hit the British pound, which tumbled to a 5-1/2-month low of $1.2532 on Monday and last traded at $1.2539.

Sterling also fell to its weakest level since January against the euro, which climbed to 89.50 pence, compared to a two-year low of 84.56 touched just over a month ago.

Former foreign minister Boris Johnson got a boost on Monday in his campaign to succeed May as one of his former rivals and EU supporter Matt Hancock backed him.

That rattled markets as Johnson, the face of the official campaign to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum, has promised to lead the United Kingdom out of the EU with or without a deal.

The pound could be in for a rough ride in coming days, with a raft of potentially market-moving events ahead, including consumer inflation and retail sales data, due on Wednesday and Thursday respectively, and the Bank of England’s policy announcement on Thursday.

The risk-sensitive Australian dollar drooped at $0.6855, just above its 5-1/2-month low of $0.6849 hit overnight, as trade tensions between the United States and China have shown few sign of abating.

Markets are pricing in about 50% chance of another rate cut next month by the Reserve Bank of Australia, which delivered its first easing in almost three years just two weeks ago.

The euro hardly budged at $1.1220 while the dollar was little moved at 108.53 yen.

The dollar was slightly undermined by the New York Fed’s business index showing a record fall this month to its weakest level in more than 2-1/2 years.

The Fed’s two-day policy meeting starting later on Tuesday is the next major focus after markets have priced in more than two 25 basis-point rate cuts by year-end.

That marks a sharp contrast to the Fed’s official forecast in March, which showed policymakers deemed the next move would be a hike.

“As markets are now pricing in rate cuts in the second half of this year, the question is how the Fed will respond to such an outlook,” said Shinichiro Kadota, senior strategist at Barclays.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Source: OANN

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Betting the house: investors demand higher premiums for risky Australian mortgage bonds

A row of newly built apartment blocks is seen in the suburb of Epping, Sydney
A row of newly built apartment blocks is seen in the suburb of Epping, Sydney, Australia February 1, 2019. Picture taken February 1, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Westbrook

June 18, 2019

By Jonathan Barrett and Paulina Duran

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Investors in Australian mortgage bonds are demanding higher premiums to buy the riskiest tranches of new debt, as a slowing economy stokes concerns a property downturn could get worse and increase home loan defaults.

High-yield investors are receiving up to 40 basis points more than they were last year to buy the lower-rated and unrated portions, according to an analysis of recent deals by large lenders including AMP, National Australia Bank and Members Equity Bank.

That marks an important shift from a near decade-long run of relatively stable spreads for the lower-rated residential mortgage backed securities (RMBS), as the previously red-hot property prices have turned sharply lower, particularly in the major Sydney and Melbourne markets.

“When you are looking at those lower unrated tranches, they are deteriorating as one would expect at the late stage of the [property] cycle,” said George Boubouras, chief investment officer at Atlas Capital.

“We see them as a leading indicator of risk, and they have been getting riskier.”

Home prices in Australia’s heavily populated eastern states have fallen rapidly since late-2017 due to souring economic conditions, pushing problem home loans to their highest level since the aftermath of the global financial crisis, according to Standard & Poor’s.

Jonathan Kearns, head of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) Financial Stability Department, said on Tuesday that arrears on housing loans are likely to keep rising for a while longer, but should not pose a risk to financial stability as long as unemployment remains low.

Indeed, the still-strong appetite for the safer – and much bigger – portions of mortgage debt suggests a major economic shock is unlikely.

The sector has also enjoyed a string of favorable policy moves in recent weeks including an interest rate cut for borrowers, proposed easing of lending rules and the surprise re-election of a conservative government which opposes higher property taxes.

TICKING TIME BOMB

All the same, as economic growth slumped to a decade low last quarter, an unusually long period of slow wages growth has also throttled household incomes and put pressure on borrowers trying to meet mortgage repayments.

The household debt to income ratio is at a record high 190%, according to RBA data.

Investors at the riskier-end of mortgage bond deals, which include higher interest payments, would take the first hit should loans start to default, though an investment grade RMBS tranche in Australia has never been hit by losses.

AMP last week sold A$1.6 million in un-rated bonds backed by mortgages, with the pricing of 6.2% representing 40 basis points more than the spread offered to buyers of similar risky bonds last year.

An ME Bank deal this month included A$5.25 million of unrated securities paying a 6% margin over benchmark rates which is 25 basis points more than what ME Bank paid buyers of similar non-rated bonds in October, the bank said.

The premium is in line with the pricing of several other RMBS deals, including one issued by NAB late last year.

Australian-issued RMBS volumes were tracking at $9.1 billion between January and June 5 this year, according to Refinitiv data, led by a global thirst for yield, but at a slower pace than the $26 billion for all of 2017.

David Bailey, chief executive of mortgage broker and RMBS-issuer Australian Finance Group, said demand for the products remained very strong despite some change to the returns in the lower tranches.

“As there’s been more and more discussion around a potential housing bubble and so forth, investors would in the back of the mind be saying, ‘maybe I do need to charge a little more for the risk’.”

Property analyst Martin North, of Digital Finance Analytics, said deals structured at the height of the property boom around 2017 and prior to prudential regulator-imposed changes to lending standards in 2014 were among the most susceptible.

“The debt bomb is still ticking, and even if a crash is delayed, the debt burden has to be dealt with at some time,” said North. 

(Reporting by Jonathan Barrett and Paulina Duran in SYDNEY; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Source: OANN

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Justice Thomas urges U.S. Supreme Court to feel free to reverse precedents

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thomas talks in his chambers at the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas talks in his chambers at the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, U.S. June 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

June 18, 2019

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to feel less bound to upholding precedent, advancing a view that if adopted by enough of his fellow justices could result in more past decisions being overruled, perhaps including the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

Writing in a gun possession case over whether the federal government and states can prosecute someone separately for the same crime, Thomas said the court should reconsider its standard for reviewing precedents.

Thomas said the nine justices should not uphold precedents that are “demonstrably erroneous,” regardless of whether other factors supported letting them stand.

“When faced with a demonstrably erroneous precedent, my rule is simple: We should not follow it,” wrote Thomas, who has long expressed a greater willingness than his colleagues to overrule precedents.

In a concurring opinion, which no other justice joined, Thomas referred to the court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe and said states cannot place an undue burden on the constitutional right to an abortion recognized in the Roe decision. Thomas, a member of the court at the time, dissented from the Casey ruling.

Thomas, 70, joined the court in 1991 as an appointee of Republican President George H.W. Bush. Thomas is its longest-serving current justice.

The court now has a 5-4 conservative majority, and Thomas is among its most conservative justices.

He demonstrated his willingness to abandon precedent in February when he wrote that the court should reconsider its landmark 1964 New York Times v. Sullivan ruling that made it harder for public officials to win libel lawsuits.

“Thomas says legal questions have objectively correct answers, and judges should find them regardless of whether their colleagues or predecessors found different answers,” said Jonathan Entin, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. “Everyone is concerned about this because they’re thinking about Roe v. Wade.”

COURT DIVISIONS

The Thomas opinion focused on “stare decisis,” a Latin term referring to the legal principle that U.S. courts should not overturn precedents without a special reason.

While stare decisis (pronounced STAR-ay deh-SY-sis) has no formal parameters, justices deciding whether to uphold precedents often look at such factors as whether they work, enhance stability in the law, are part of the national fabric or promote reliance interests, such as in contract cases.

In 2000, conservative then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist left intact the landmark 1966 Miranda v. Arizona ruling, which required police to advise people in custody of their rights, including the rights to remain silent and have a lawyer.

Writing for a 7-2 majority, Rehnquist wrote that regardless of concerns about Miranda’s reasoning, “the principles of stare decisis weigh heavily against overruling it now.” Thomas joined Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent from that decision. But even Scalia, a conservative who died in 2016, had a different view of stare decisis.

In a widely quoted comment, Scalia once told a Thomas biographer, Ken Foskett, that Thomas “doesn’t believe in stare decisis, period,” and that “if a constitutional line of authority is wrong, he would say let’s get it right. I wouldn’t do that.”

Stare decisis has also split the current court, including last month when in a 5-4 decision written by Thomas the justices overruled a 1979 precedent that had allowed states to be sued by private parties in courts of other states.

Justice Stephen Breyer, a member of the court’s liberal wing, dissented, faulting the majority for overruling “a well-reasoned decision that has caused no serious practical problems.” Citing the 1992 Casey ruling, Breyer said the May decision “can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next.”

Thomas said the court should “restore” its jurisprudence relating to precedents to ensure it exercises “mere judgment” and focuses on the “correct, original meaning” of laws it interprets.

“In our constitutional structure, our rule of upholding the law’s original meaning is reason enough to correct course,” Thomas wrote.

Thomas also said demonstrably erroneous decisions should not be “elevated” over federal statutes, as well as the Constitution, merely because they are precedents.

“That’s very different from what the Court does today,” said John McGinnis, a law professor at Northwestern University in Chicago.

McGinnis said the thrust of Thomas’s opinion “makes clear that in a narrow area he will give some weight to precedent. But at the same time, he thinks cases have one right answer, and might find more cases ‘demonstrably erroneous.'”

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Will Dunham)

Source: OANN

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Asia stocks capped ahead of Fed, oil on defensive

A man looks on in front of an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Nanjing
A man looks on in front of an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

June 18, 2019

By Shinichi Saoshiro

TOKYO (Reuters) – Investor caution ahead of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate meeting capped Asian stocks on Tuesday, while crude oil prices retreated as global growth worries overshadowed supply concerns stemming from recent Middle East tensions.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan inched up 0.05%.

Australian stocks added 0.1% while Japan’s Nikkei dipped 0.05%.

The Fed, facing fresh demands by U.S. President Donald Trump to cut interest rates, begins a two-day meeting later on Tuesday. The central bank is expected to leave borrowing costs unchanged this time but possibly lay the groundwork for a rate cut later this year.

Fresh hopes for looser U.S. monetary policy have been a tonic for risk assets markets, which were buffeted last month by an escalation in the trade conflict between Washington and Beijing. The S&P 500 has gained 5% this month after sliding in May on trade war fears.

Focus is now on how close the Fed could be to cutting interest rates amid the raging U.S.-China trade war, signs of the economy losing steam and pressure by President Trump to ease policy.

“The FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting is the week’s biggest event so there will be a degree of caution prevailing in the markets,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.

“Expectations for a rate cut in July have increased significantly, so the markets could experience disappointment if the Fed does not send strong signals of impending easing.”

U.S. Treasury yields dipped on Monday after the New York Fed’s “Empire” gauge of business growth in the state showed a fall this month to its weakest in more than 2-1/2-years, fanning rate cut expectations.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies stood little changed at 97.507 after pulling back from a two-week high on the decline in Treasury yields.

The pound traded at $1.2542 after retreating overnight to a six-month low of $1.2532 on Monday on concerns that arch-Brexiteer Boris Johnson will replace Theresa May as prime minister. [GBP/]

The euro was a shade higher at $1.1224 after spending the previous day confined to a narrow range.

U.S. crude oil futures shed 0.08% to $51.89 per barrel after retreating 1.1% the previous day.

Oil prices had slipped on Monday as weak Chinese economic data released at the end of last week led to fears of lower global demand for the commodity. [O/R]

Concerns over weakening demand overshadowed tensions in the Middle East, which remained high following last week’s attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

(This version of the story corrects typographical error in paragraph 5)

(Editing by Sam Holmes)

Source: OANN

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French court sees no ‘clear and illegal disruption’ in Gulf sports piracy case

FILE PHOTO: Egyptian clients wait at one of the outlets of Qatari-funded beIN Sports channel in Cairo
FILE PHOTO: Egyptian clients wait at one of the outlets of Qatari-funded beIN Sports channel in Cairo, Egypt June 12, 2018.. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/File Photo

June 18, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – A French court has ruled that pirated sports content belonging to the Qatar-based broadcaster beIN was accessible via a Saudi-based satellite operator, but said it had not found evidence of “clear and illegal disruption”, court documents seen by Reuters showed.

BeIN Media Group filed a complaint in France against Saudi-based Arabsat to try to establish, in what it said was a “credible” court, that Arabsat was carrying pirated broadcasts of global sports events to which beIN held the rights.

Several global sports bodies have threatened legal action against the pirate channel beoutQ over what they say are illegal broadcasts across the Middle East and North Africa. It is unclear who owns or operates beoutQ.

A June 13 ruling by the Paris court, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, found that signals from beoutQ were available on Arabsat frequencies and accessible from French territory, based on findings by a firm retained by beIN.

“These elements are sufficient to establish that Arabsat has a charge to answer,” the ruling said.

But it also said beIN had failed to demonstrate the existence of “clear and illegal disruption or prove that there was immediate risk of commercial damage” that could justify forcing Arabsat to block beoutQ’s satellite signals in France.

BeoutQ emerged in 2017 after Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies launched a political and economic boycott of Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism, which Doha denies. The channel is widely available in Saudi Arabia but Riyadh says it is not based there, and that Saudi authorities are committed to fighting piracy.

Soccer governing body FIFA said on Sunday that beoutQ was transmitting the Women’s World Cup across the Middle East and North Africa via Arabsat frequencies and called on the operator to help address the misuse of its intellectual property.

Arabsat, which is owned by Arab League states, has denied that beoutQ uses its satellite frequencies for illegal broadcasts. Reuters has not been able to contact beoutQ for comment.

Arabsat welcomed the French ruling, saying it rejected “all false accusations that Qatar’s beIN Sports group tried to pin on Arabsat”.

BeIN also welcomed the court decision, which a spokesman said would be used to support the company’s filings in separate international investment arbitration cases.

Arabsat has a small presence in France, which enabled beIN to file its complaint in Paris. BeIN was ordered to pay fees of 25,000 euros ($28,000) to Arabsat and 6,000 euros to an Arabsat adviser.

(Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic and Luke Baker in Paris, Eric Knecht in Qatar, Alexander Cornwell in Dubai and Stephen Kalin in Saudi Arabia; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Nick Tattersall)

Source: OANN

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Writer Wins $4.1M Lawsuit Against White Supremacist Website

A federal judge has ordered a white supremacist website to pay writer and comedian Dean Obeidallah $4.1 million for knowingly publishing a false article about him.

As The New York Times reported, the judgment was handed down last week. The case stemmed from an article published on the fringe website The Daily Stormer in June 2017 that accused Obeidallah, who appears on CNN and writes for several news websites, of being a terrorist who orchestrated the Manchester, England bombing attack at an Ariana Grande concert.

The claim was false, and it came after Obeidallah wrote a piece about white racism for The Daily Beast.

The Daily Stormer responded to the column with a story written by its publisher Andrew Anglin, who wrote Obeidallah told people he was behind the bombing attack. Doctored tweets accompanied the article. Obeidallah, a Muslim, received death threats after the article was published, and he eventually filed a lawsuit against the website.

The monetary judgment was awarded after Anglin failed to appear at any of the court hearings as part of the case. It is not known how much of the $4.1 million Anglin will dole out.

"We want to collect some money because that's a more powerful message than just a judgment on paper," Obeidallah told the Times. "We're going to give it to organizations that fight white supremacy, run by the very people these guys hate, like Muslims, African-Americans, Jewish Americans, and the LGBTQ community."

In an opinion piece for CNN last week, Obeidallah wrote his intention in filing the lawsuit had nothing to do with money.

"It was about sending a message to these vile white supremacists and their ilk that they will not silence me or members of the other groups they despise, be they blacks, Jews, LGBT people, immigrants, etc.," he wrote. "We will neither cower in fear nor stop calling out their hate. And more than that, we will take them to court and we will win."

Source: NewsMax America


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