1. US stocks closed higher on Wednesday, even as multiple companies became entangled in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump administration, and markets digested a US exit from the Iran nuclear deal. Among the companies which said they paid President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, after Trump’s inauguration are Novartis, which paid more than $1 million and Columbus Nova, which has ties to a Russian oligarch. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.75% at close. Meanwhile, the ASX looks set to push towards 6,100 this morning on the back of a strong global lead.
2. Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal may have given Beijing a major boost. Alex Vatanka, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, told Business Insider that China has been playing a “smart, quiet game” with its Middle East diplomacy efforts, but may now choose to “fill the vacuum left by the United States”. China is a key trade partner of Iran’s, and may be seen as a natural choice to lead future negotiations, giving Beijing more diplomatic power in the Middle East.
3. There’s been a surprise election result in Malaysia, with former prime minister Mohamed Mahathir regaining power. It ends the six-decade rule of prime minister Najib Razak’s party. Mahathir, Malaysia’s longest-serving premier who defected to the opposition to take on Najib, will return to power at the age of 92. The AFR reports iShares MSCI Malaysia ETF fell to its lowest level since February overnight, but markets are expected to be closed today and tomorrow after the government declared public holidays.
4. Déjà vu? Australian voters will face five by-elections next month as four more MPs resign because they’re dual citizens. It follows a High Court ruling yesterday that declared Labor senator Katy Gallagher ineligible because she was in breach of the Constitution, forcing her from Parliament. Three ALP MPs – Josh Wilson from Western Australia, Queensland’s Susan Lamb and Tasmania’s Justine Keay – announced they will resign and recontest their seats, along with former Nick Xenophon Team MP Rebekha Sharkie from Adelaide. The dual citizenship saga has now dragged on for 10 months, cost taxpayers around $12 million, and seen 15 MPs and senators step down and 10 leave politics as a result.
5. Budget breakdown.Former ANZ chief economist Warren Hogan, who also recently spent time as a senior official at federal Treasury, joins BI to break down the federal budget on a special edition of Devils and Details. Hogan talks the politics and economics of the budget, giving it a pretty significant tick of approval. There’s also a deep dive on the assumptions under the budget – including the wage growth forecasts – and a look at the global backdrop. Find the show on iTunes, on the web here, or listen in below.
6. A 104-year-old Australian scientist who travelled to Switzerland to end his life says he is not without regrets, but he’s “content to leave them undone”. David Goodall, who is not terminally ill, said, “one should be free to choose the death, when death is at an appropriate time”, adding that he’s “happy to have the chance” to do so. Goodall, a member of the Order of Australia, has planned to die on Thursday. Some of his family will be present. Assisted suicide has been legal in Switzerland since the 1940s, but it is forbidden in Australia.
7. That’s not a burpee, this is a burpee. An Australian personal trainer set a world record for the most burpees done in 60 minutes — but internet critics say she was doing them wrong. Liz Llorente, a 37-year-old PT from Adelaide, completed an impressive 1,490 burpees in 60 minutes – beating the previous record by 169 burpees. The Guinness World Records enforces a starting position of hands and feet in a plank position, and to complete a burpee, it states the exercise must transition into a jump, with hands and feet both removed from the ground. It does not state how far the hands and feet must be removed from the ground, or if you have to stand completely upright. You be the judge:
8. This $33,500 robot barista can serve 120 cups of coffee an hour, including espressos, flat whites, and cortados. Plus one of these coffees will only cost you $4 — and there’s no need to tip. The robot is part of a growing “robot revolution” that won’t only transform the restaurant industry but could kill millions of jobs. It’s 24-year-old inventor says: “The idea isn’t to scare you or harm you in any way. The point is to get you your coffee as quickly and deliciously as possible.”
9. This is not a Tom Hanks movie, this is real life. Hassan al-Kontar has been stranded at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 since March 7. He’s there after years of struggling to seek a better life abroad as a Syrian citizen. He now documents his daily struggles on Twitter, and has learned to adapt to life stuck in transit. Read more here.
10. McWhat? From a cup of pickles, to raw patties and even a McChicken sandwich smothered in strawberry jam, these are just some of the bizarre orders McDonald’s employees have received from customers — and to be honest they’re not exactly happy about it. And before you think about customising your next order, just remember — you’re at McDonald’s, not a five-star restaurant.
Have a great day.
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