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News Round-Up: US debt ceiling raised, a child beauty pageant scandalises Melbourne and Lovett is cleared of rape

Elizabeth Yick

Tue Aug 02 2011


US Congress Votes to Pass the Debt Ceiling Raise

ON MONDAY night, the US Congress voted to pass the raising of the US Debt Ceiling by $2.1 trillion USD – an amount that should allow to the country to continue borrowing for the next two years.

President Barack Obama stated that both parties in both the House of Representatives and the Senate have reached an agreement.

“This compromise does make a serous down payment on the deficit-reduction we need. Most importantly, it will allow us to avoid default.”

A default, said the President, would have a devastating effect on the US economy.

White House representatives further stated that this agreement would bypass the need for another congressional vote in regards to the debt ceiling until 2013, and would provide much needed “certainty” for the fragile US economy in the next two years.

The decision comes after months of political tension between the Republicans, the Democrats, and the White House.

The raising of the debt ceiling involves up to $2.4 trillion cuts in federal spending, including defense funding. However, the deal involves no new taxes.

U.S.-Style child pageant has Melbourne in an uproar

“Beauty Queens” have largely been stereotyped to be an American teenage movie phenomenon.

It seems that is not the case, however, as a child pageant was held at Northcote Town Hall over the weekend.

The golden child of US pageantry, six-year-old Eden Wood”, was the star attraction.

Protesters raged throughout the streets of Melbourne CBD at the beauty contest with no age restrictions, apparently allowing children as young as two months old to be enrolled.

Adolescent mental health specialist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, condemned child pageantry, stating that it is almost a form of child abuse.

“We have got to say no… these children will not come out of this unscarred psychologically and we are all sitting around rather like voyeurs watching it happen. There is really something quite obscene about that.”

“All of the evidence says that this sort of early sexualisation of young people is associated with negative body image, disordered eating, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem. It is simply toxic,” Dr Carr-Gregg said.

Many parents of the pageant participants fired back, claiming that it was a valuable bonding opportunity between mothers and daughters, further stating that enrollment in a pageant is not unlike football training or dance tuition, and should not been viewed especially negatively.

Footballer Andrew Lovett Acquitted of Rape Charges

Last Monday, former AFL player Andrew Lovett was acquitted by a County Court jury on the two counts of rape charges filed against him, to which he had pleaded not guilty.

Lovett had been accused of raping a woman on Christmas Eve of 2009 at the house of his former teammate Jason Gram.

As a result of such allegations, the St Kilda Football Club had dismissed Lovett before he had even played a match.

The alleged victim, a model, had told the court that she had been intoxicated and sleeping, and awoke to find Lovett raping her. She claimed that when she had objected to his actions and said no, he had replied, “Why not? You are a sexy bitch.”

She further claimed that whilst Lovett was having sexual intercourse with her, she had texted an ex-boyfriend for help.

However, the jurors were shown evidence of her phone records which showed this statement to be false, which the jury deemed to cast reasonable doubt on her claims.

Lovett himself did not testify, but were supported in court by his family.

As the jury found him to be not guilty, Lovett demonstrated visible signs of joy and relief.

“I am just glad it’s over, I am relieved and [can] just start the next phase of my life… it’s been a rough trot, as you know, so just glad it’s over,” the former footy star told reporters.

The former AFL player did not deny a possible return to professional football, and celebrated by hitting a club on Sunday night.