Australia: The 2014 World Cup: A tough gig – “… the sun has all but set on the ‘Golden Generation’ who underpinned Australia’s success over the past decade. Of the 14 players fielded in Australia’s last World Cup game, realistically only team talisman Tim Cahill and Marco Bresciano are likely ‘starters’ in Brazil. … The passing of the ‘Golden Generation’ and the enormity of Australia’s challenge in Brazil have clear parallels in the domestic economy as, following an unprecedented 22 years of uninterrupted expansion, major risks are now intensifying. Most importantly, the dual booms in commodity prices and mining construction that delivered Australia through the global financial crisis relatively unscathed are now swinging sharply into reverse. And against this backdrop, the stubbornly high AUD and switch to contractionary fiscal policy are acting as handbrakes to a nascent economic recovery. Ultimately, for Australia to successfully navigate the current period of elevated economic risk would truly be some achievement – unprecedented in the country’s long history of commodity booms followed by painful busts. The burden on local policy makers is therefore a heavy one, and the government is taking a significant risk by seeking to underpin Australia’s AAA credit rating via a combination of the largest cuts to public expenditure in almost two decades and the introduction of unpopular tax increases. As kick-off in Brazil approaches, the current Prime Minister may reflect with unease that Australia’s last appearance in the World Cup on June 23, 2010 coincided with the then Prime Minister being unexpectedly usurped by his Deputy – in large part in response to the government’s mishandling of taxation issues.”
Imagine a mama wren hovering above her nest. The chick below is crying out for food. The mama listens. She keeps listening. The chick is obviously hungry; the mama has a mash of berries ready, but … she doesn’t land. Instead, after a few more beats, she turns and — suddenly — vanishes. She doesn’t come back. Ever. The baby starves. What just happened? The mother has just made a horrible discovery. A few days earlier she had a couple of eggs (not yet hatched) in that nest. While she was out foraging, a sneaky neighbor snuck over and dropped an extra egg of her own into the nest. This new egg wasn’t invited. It wasn’t even a wren egg. It belonged to a Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoo, an animal that biologists call a “brood parasite” — meaning the cuckoo tricks other birds into raising her kids.