It's Thursday and the end (of the year) is nigh.
1. Google has just settled a ten-year dispute with the Australia Tax Office, paying an extra $481.5 million into government coffers. While Google admits no liability as part of the deal (go figure), it all comes as governments around the world wrestle with how to tax multinationals that sell intangibles like apps and services. Such agreements are becoming more common for big tech companies, with Facebook, Apple and Microsoft all coming to similar ceasefire agreements with the ATO in recent years.
2. Just when you thought that the bad news for banks was over this year, NAB executives are being investigated for "systemic failures" in the now infamous fees-for-no-service scandal. The regulator alleges the bank broke the law 10,000 times charging customers for services it knowingly didn't render. It comes after Westpac landed itself in hot water on 23 million contraventions of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism finance laws and hogging all the headlines. Who says there's no competition in banking?
3. Facebook has turned to a group of "community reviewers" to fight misinformation. Mind you, the caped crusaders will only work on a part-time basis so you'll presumably be able to still get your fair share of fake news on site.
4. Thousands of Americans have taken to the streets a day before House representatives vote on Trump's impeachment. Some 600 marches were planned to take place around the country, with more than 200,000 Americans expected to turnout. Trump, naturally, has maintained it's a witch hunt, comparing himself to the victims of the Salem hangings. It's a pretty long bow to draw, as the Mayor of Salem has pointed out.
5. WeWork, the hyped-up real estate company people love to hate, has been thrown a multi-billion dollar bailout package with Goldman Sachs. The deal sees the investment bank extend an astounding $US1.75 billion line of credit to the wounded unicorn.
6. In yet another foreshadowing of a long, hot summer, Australia has officially recorded its hottest day in history. On Tuesday, average national temperatures shot to 40.9 degrees, eclipsing the previous record of 40.3. Stay safe out there. Meanwhile raging bushfires have forced the NSW government to declare another state of emergency, the second this season.
7. Huawei's next big phone, the P40, will reportedly launch in March next year without a single Google app. The Chinese tech firm has been having trouble securing Google services thanks to the ongoing US-China trade war, with the phone to run Huawei's alternative app store only.
8. It appears that the Elon Musk and Tesla cult has spread to Australia. The South African entrepreneur's American electric car company Tesla has come in near the top of our most trusted car brands. Globalisation is alive and well. While we're on the topic, we've also dived into the top ten 'bougiest' brands that rich Australians can't stop spending at.
9. In a rare sign of unity, Amazon, Google and Apple have joined forces on forming smart-home standards. The agreement sees security become a main priority for all three in the development of their devices, after concerns that the tech could be compromised.
10. There's been plenty of hype around weed stocks in recent years, as investors scramble to cash in on growing legalisation. Turns out it may have been a bad bet. Traders betting against these eight cannabis companies made a cheeky $US1 billion in 2019. That's a lot of green.
Have you been counting down the minutes until the end of the year from the safety of the toilet cubicle? Me neither, but it might not be enough to stop your boss from installing one of these bad boys: a slanting toilet designed to cause you leg pain after just five minutes of sitting. Productivity gone mad, I say.