1. It’s the week before Christmas and data is all but dried up. But there is one big drop today – treasurer Scott Morrison’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO). And it’s important because a fall in debt projections could trigger income tax cuts. In the US, tax cuts are all but a lock after key Republican Senators reversed course and cleared the way for Trump’s tax overhaul. ASX200 futures traders are betting on that sparking a solid rise for today’s open. And iron ore is finishing the year on a run higher.
2. The treasurer’s mid-year budget review is likely to show continued improvement in the federal finances. This should be another feather in the (admittedly pretty bare) cap of Malcolm Turnbull. In recent weeks, Labor has lost Sam Dastyari and two of its MPs have been referred to the High Court over citizenship. The Coalition, meanwhile, has held seats in two by-elections including in Bennelong over the weekend, and Turnbull’s managed to steer marriage equality through parliament. Throw it all together and the Australian PM is in a much stronger position heading into Christmas than many would have believed possible. Paul Colgan has more.
3. When the bitcoin crash comes, it will unleash Hell. Here’s why:
You’re looking at the increasing length of time it takes to confirm a bitcoin trade as the network becomes increasingly congested. The seven-day average is up to four-and-a-half hours. So if you’re holding your life savings in BTC and the less than 1000 people who hold 40% of the market panic and start selling, well… good luck with that. And Jim Edwards says that attempt-to-exit process will also be expensive.
4. For the first time, Australian Federal Police got to charge someone under the Commonwealth Weapons of Mass Destruction Act in Australia. They’ve arrested a 59-year-old man from Sydney, accusing him of trying to help Kim Jong Un’s regime establish a ballistic missile production facility, transfer coal to North Korea, and sell a missile guidance system.
5. Also for the first time, the Pentagon has acknowledged the existence of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. Or at least a $US22 million fund to investigate UFO activity, created at the request of Democrat senator Harry Reid, with most of the $US22 million going to Reid’s friend and election donor Robert Bigelow’s aerospace company. Because US politics is US politics, no matter who is leading the country.
6. But as news of that suspicious activity broke, a former US Navy pilot told the New York Times about the time he was scrambled to investigate a “mysterious, white floating object” hovering over the sea off the coast of San Diego in 2004. Commander David Fravor saw it well enough to note the 13-metre oval object “had no plumes, wings or rotors”. But as he approached, it burned off his F-18 with ease.
7. Woo, right? But here are seven space mysteries that are 100% real and no one knows what’s going on. They also have cool names, like “The Great Attractor” and “Tabby’s Star”.
8. Ball of the Century or dodgy pitch? Regardless, cricket fans from all over the world could watch Mitchell Starc scattering James Vince’s stumps over and over again:
— Mrigank Tyagi (@TheMrigankTyagi) December 17, 2017
Former UK Ashes spinner Graeme Swann said that ball “is getting out Sachin, Bradman and Steven Smith 1000 times out of 1000 times”. England is praying for rain in Perth today to save it from losing the Ashes with two Tests left to play.
9. Bullying is not okay. Even if it does mean you get way more sex, with more partners, as this latest research suggests.
10. If you’ve got time for a meaty thinkpiece today, you won’t find better than this interview with the father of virtual reality, Jaron Lanier. Under all the shabby clothes and dreadlocks is quite a brain – don’t miss it.
BONUS ITEM: This doggo is Ruler of All the Sheep:
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