Published:  12:55 AM, 05 December 2019

Worldwide waffling

Worldwide waffling

The Morrison government will cease all bilateral aid to Pakistan, which includes support for successful programs helping poor women and girls, as funds for development assistance are diverted to the Pacific.

Australia has a 70-year history of providing aid to Pakistan but will end all government to government development assistance in 2020-21, the latest aid program performance report on Pakistan reveals. "Funding in Australia's overall aid program has been redirected to support new initiatives in our immediate Pacific region," it said.

Australian students' performance in mathematics has fallen to the OECD average, the first time results in one of the three core competencies has done so since international comparisons began in 2000.

The Programme for International Student Assessment results, released on Tuesday evening, confirm a continuing long-term decline in Australian students' reading, mathematics and science skills. There are now 10 countries with "significantly higher" results in reading than Australia, 23 in maths and 12 in science.

The federal education minister, Dan Tehan, said the results were "very disappointing" and "should have alarm bells ringing" but pushed responsibility on to the states rather than revisiting the issue of federal funding to improve results.

The first lady ditched the creepy ballet dancers and blood red trees that decorated the White House in Christmases past, opting instead for bright lights, bows, and bobbles that in any other home might look cheerful-if incredibly ostentatious.  "

The Spirit of America," as Melania so subtly calls her state-sponsored jingoism, is the most sterile of her three attempts at holiday decorating. It appears preemptively designed to be impossible to poke fun at, unlike last year's Shining-esque color scheme or the stark-bare, dreary tree branches erected in 2017.

President Donald Trump kicks off a two-day whirlwind of meetings with NATO alliance members, but his focus appears to remain centered on the impeachment inquiry playing out at home.

Before departing for London to meet Tuesday with other leaders from the 29-member alliance, Trump accused Democrats of trying to embarrass him by scheduling this week's impeachment hearing while he'll be abroad with NATO leaders.

Trump, who arrived in London late Monday, called the trip "one of the most important journeys that we make as president" before he departed Washington and said Democrats had long known about it.

Trump's trip comes amid ongoing quarrels over defense spending by NATO allies and widespread anxiety over the American president's commitment to the alliance.

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