Happy Monday. Hope your weekends were swell.
1. The greater Sydney area has had its fire danger warning raised to 'catastrophic' for the first time ever. A statewide fire ban has been called to help contain the more than 60 fires which continue to rage throughout New South Wales. The 'catastrophic' rating was introduced in 2009 after the Black Saturday blazes in Victoria. Is climate change responsible? “I’m focused on the needs of the people in this room today, as is the Premier,” Scott Morrison said at a presser.
2. Clearly desperate for anything which might get the Australian economy thrumming again, the Reserve Bank has turned its steely gaze on the prospect of a lower Aussie dollar. The RBA is hopeful a lower dollar would help create jobs, and raise inflation and GDP, according to its November monetary policy statement. Economists, on the other hand, don't think it'll be the silver bullet. Or even a bronze one. Copper? I'm not sure this metaphor works, but you get the gist.
3. A new report points to the reason why the Boeing 737 Max has remained grounded for so long. Following the March crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, the second fatal crash involving a 737 Max in five months, engineers got to work on a software fix for the 'nose diving' issue on the plane. But when the 'fix' entered preliminary testing in June, it indicated the problem wasn't fixed at all – meaning the whole flight-computer architecture needed a rethink.
4. Following a spate of deaths at festivals in NSW, the state's deputy coroner has officially backed pill testing and – perhaps more radically – the decriminalisation of personal drug possession. “There is a wealth of evidence that demonstrates the benefits of alternatives to arrest for use and possession offences,” Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame noted.
5. Apple Card is facing an investigation by Wall Street regulators over gender discrimination after a tweet thread went viral. Web developer and author David Heinemeier Hansson alleged Apple's new credit card gave him twenty times the credit limit as his wife, despite the fact they file joint tax returns and have been married for a long time. Now, Bloomberg reports a formal investigation has been opened into Goldman Sachs, which provides the financial infrastructure for Apple's card.
6. A recent Nielsen report found 66% of Australians aged 21-34 are making a concerted effort to reduce their drinking. We took a deeper look at the trend, including the companies which are capitalising on the movement towards sobriety – like a Melbourne-based company developing non-alcoholic spirits.
7. Amazon boss Jeff Bezos reportedly called fellow billionaire and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg earlier this year, urging him to run for president. You can call this a prime example of billionaire class solidarity – especially as the rest of the Democratic primary pushes for higher taxes on the ultra-wealthy – but it's not hard to ascertain why Bezos is particularly panicky. Yes, the Democratic contenders, like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, want to tax him hard. But Trump loathes Amazon too. If Bloomberg is his only clean shot, it's dire times for Bezos.
8. Also on the global politics front: A new report indicates the Conservative Party in the UK received cash from 9 Russian donors who have been linked with the Kremlin. Said report was suppressed by Boris Johnson amid fears it might damage his party's chances in the upcoming general election.
9. The New York Times has been running a longterm investigation on the prevalence of child porn on tech platforms, and the results have not been great. According to the latest instalment, explicit abuse material is still prevalent across the biggest platforms – like Facebook, Dropbox, and others – thanks to inconsistencies in enforcement.
10. A former WeWork employee is taking the company to court over founder Adam Neumann's reported $1.7 billion golden parachute. Natalie Sojka’s lawsuit accuses Neumann and other WeWork directors of benefiting themselves at the expense of minority shareholders, breaching their fiduciary duty, creating corporate waste, unjustly enriching themselves, abusing control, among other failures. That's a lot of ten dollar legal words for what I think we can all understand more intuitively as, "Why did that guy get $1.7 billion?"
Have a geez at this. Not sure I'm a fan, given busted pluggers are a rite of passage of Australian life. To deny the next generation that experience is out of line.