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10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Foul… Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

Good morning! It’s Wednesday and Steve Smith has just one job today. Win.

1. Russia is DSQ. The country’s Olympic team has been barred from the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea by the International Olympic Committee following a 17-month investigation into what was deemed to be state-supported doping. The investigation found Russian officials tampered with and even swapped urine samples. They’ve also been stripped of some medals from the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Some Russian athletes will be allowed to attend and compete, but in a neutral uniform. Meanwhile, Fairfax Media joined News Corp in saying they won’t be sending journalists to next April’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games because of restrictions designed to protect host broadcaster, Channel Seven.

2. A new Jerusalem. Donald Trump is hitting the phone to Middle Eastern leaders about his plan to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and recognise the city as Israel’s capital. Apparently it’s not going down well with Jordan’s King Abdullah issuing a statement saying the decision “will have serious implications for security and stability in the Middle East” and undermine efforts to resume the peace process.

3. It’s GDP day in Australia, a key quarterly report card on how well the domestic economy is tracking. David Scutt’s 10-second guide has everything you need to know. Looking abroad, and markets continued to react to potential impact of US tax cuts overnight. So the US dollar strengthened and bond yields continue to rise. But stocks are stuck in a rut this week, with the S&P500 declining from record highs. And there was a sharp selloff in base metals, led by a 4.5% dive in copper prices which doesn’t bode well for Australia’s resource-heavy stock index today.

4. Amazon Australia finally launched on Tuesday and the initial reaction looked a lot like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Of course Day One is just the start for the global juggernaut and Amazon Prime is still six months away, but Morgan Stanley’s first impression was “the offer isn’t that competitive”. They compared prices on 29 items with leading retailers, and suprisingly, consumer electronics are 13% more expensive on Amazon, it was a draw on apparel and sports prices, but in a move that should have Woolworths and Coles, already under pressure from Aldi, a bit freaked, Amazon’s dry groceries were 13% cheaper than the supermarkets. We also did some price comparisons and our conclusion is the old adage “it pays to shop around” still applies.

5. Brexit hit a wall. Or more precisely an Irish border. Northern Ireland DUP leader Arlene Foster declined to meet with Theresa May, delaying a Brexit deal in an ongoing stalemate over the Irish border. On Monday the DUP boss accused the PM of reneging on a deal to break the deadlock, and now the subsequent crisis talks have been blocked.

6. Victorian Labor MP David Feeney’s never been a paperwork kind of guy. Remember the $2.3 million investment property he forgot to declare, which became an election issue? Now he’s among five lower house MPs facing dual citizenship problems. Embarrassingly for Opposition leader Bill Shorten, who kept saying his party rigorously checked this stuff, four Labor MPs may end up at the High Court’s mercy. Feeney said he recounced his British citizenship 10 years ago, but can’t find his documents. The political fight between the Coalition and Labor on this issue still has some way to run

7. Apple’s finally going to pay the $20 billion (€13 bn) tax bill it owes Ireland. Dublin announced a deal with the US computer giant this week over the terms of an escrow fund, with payments to start next year. But it only came about because the EU dragged Ireland to the European Court of Justice, for failing to implement its 2016 order to collect the taxes, which the EU ruled in 2016 allowed Apple to channel its revenue through Ireland and pay next to no tax on European profits between 2003 and 2014.

8. Day 5 of the 2nd Ashes Test and Stephen Fry sums it up best.

The Poms need 178 runs with 6 wickets remaining. Cricket Australia summed up Steve Smith’s day thus:

Incidentally, Adelaide smashed its own 85-year-old crowd record yesterday, with more than 173,000 people through the turnstiles.

9. It’s bushfire season. But the weird thing is not here right now, but around Los Angeles, where 1000 firefighters are up against 100kmh-plus winds and a series of blazes that began late Monday, early Tuesday and have already burned across 20,000 hectares, destroyed more than 150 buildings and forced 27,000 people to evacuate. IN WINTER.

10. How often have you wished a group of English football lads got together to punch out a 20-year-old ballad from an Aussie pop duo?

Wish granted.

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