Good morning – I hope you've had a cracking holiday.
1. One group who have had better holidays are the nation's firies. Not least of which, the 1,400 who battled on Boxing Day to keep fires from Sydney's major water catchment. All but a small portion of land surrounding Warragamba Dam -- which supplies 80% of the city's drinking water -- has been scorched. It's just the latest front in an ever-escalating bushfire season.
2. International newspaper The Financial Times has published a brutal editorial on the Australian government's 'lamentable' response to the climate crisis. The paper launched a scathing critique on the government's lack of leadership on climate, and its denial of the relationship between the intensity of the fires and climate change.
3. Australian tech unicorn Airwallex has had $26 million frozen as Hong Kong police conduct a fraud probe. The investigation centres around two customers of the payment service provider who defrauded a Uruguayan company. Airwallex says it had no knowledge or involvement in the fraud and is assisting authorities as best it can.
4. Meanwhile North Korea has made people a little tense this time of year, after the rogue state warned it had a Christmas gift for the US this year. While some analysts expect it could be the first long-range missile test in two years, US President Donald Trump has joked it could be a "beautiful vase". Here's hoping the Commander-in-chief is right.
5. It's happened. former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has left the building for good. Kalanick has announced he will depart Uber's board of directors by 31 December, offloading an enormous amount of stock on his way out the door. Selling $US2.5 billion worth of shares in the last two months, Santa certainly would not have missed his house this year. Ho, ho, ho.
6. Viral social media app TikTok is reportedly considering moving its headquarters outside of China. The app, popular around the world, looks to be trying to distance itself from the communist state as it faces increasing scrutiny overseas. New headquarters under consideration include Singapore, London, and Dublin.
7. Failing that, its owner could even be looking to sell its crown jewel. ByteDance -- made the most valuable start-up in the world by the app's success -- is mulling a possible sale as challengers mount for it. No potential buyers have been named at this stage, but they would need fairly deep pockets.
8. Speaking of which, Adam Neumann's could be about to get a whole lot deeper. The former WeWork head honcho's golden parachute could be about to blow out to $US2 billion if the office leasing company were to go public. Not bad considering how poorly its last attempt went under Neumann's stewardship.
9. The Chinese government is being condemned for mass rape. Activists say the government pays money to Chinese men to sleep with women from the Uighur minority group to create "ethnic unity", in a program called 'Pair Up and Become Family'. It's the latest in a long line of crimes said to be committed against the Muslim minority in China.
10. Closer to home, it turns out to have about the worst Christmas for retailers since the GFC. Despite tax cuts and falling interest rates, we aren't spending, with consumer confidence plummeting and GST revenue down $550 million this festive season. The grim results are hardly a surprise, but retailers will be hoping Boxing Day sales can draw shoppers back into the fold.
Christmas is a unique time of year where family members are thrust together and forced to navigate small talk for hours on end. If you didn't have to do that this year, allow Kevin Spacey's Christmas message -- his second off-putting 'gift' in as many years -- to give you a taste of awkward season greetings.
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