Good morning. Some big moves in the world of business today.
1. Amazon just announced that it's going to suspend police use of its controversial facial recognition technology for one year. Amazon last week put out a statement against police brutality and systemic racism, but advocates pointed out that Amazon works with many police departments and that studies have shown that its Rekognition software is biased against Black people and other people with darker skin. "We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested," an Amazon blog post said.
2. The Black Lives Matter protests have made their way to the world of entertainment. A Business Insider report exposed the "toxic" culture at popular foodie outlet Bon Appétit, HBO Max has temporarily pulled "Gone with the Wind" until it can properly contextualise its depictions of race, and the BBC pulled "Little Britain" because of its use of blackface.
3. This is having an impact in Australia, too. Netflix has quietly removed four Chris Lilley shows from its library due to his portrayal of non-white characters. His most recent show, "Lunatics", which is a Netflix Original, remains on the platform.
4. Scott Morrison this morning addressed the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests that took place over the weekend. "By doing this, they have put the whole track back to recovery at risk," he said. "Any further action on this front would be absolutely unacceptable."
5. In perhaps less momentous Amazon news, the company has launched an online booze shop in Australia. This puts it in competition with local players like BWS and Dan Murphy's. “We’re particularly thrilled to work with local brands at launch and help them access our customers, marketing tools and logistics expertise to grow their business," said Amazon Australia Country Manager Matt Furlong.
6. The skirmish between Australia and China continues – this time around the university sector. The Chinese government has issued two warnings in less than a week to its citizens, advising them to think twice before visiting or studying in Australia, citing a spike in racism amid the coronavirus pandemic. That's a big move, considering Chinese students and visitors contribute $24 billion to the economy. Of course, there is a broader geopolitical struggle here too: it comes as tensions run high between Beijing and Canberra over Australia’s support of an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19.
7. While we're on universities: five of ours cracked the top 50 of the 2021 QS World University Rankings. The Australian National University (ANU) took the top spot among Aussie institutions, coming in 31st in a tie with London’s King College and Montreal’s McGill University
8. Australian home lending contracted by 4.8% in April, its largest monthly fall since 2015, after home inspections and auctions were temporarily prohibited. The drop was followed by car lending falling by 37.8% and personal loans by more than 17% as confidence sunk during the pandemic. However, perhaps strangely, a Westpac consumer survey released on Wednesday shows confidence is returning to pre-COVID-19 levels – suggesting Australians may believe the worst is over.
9. Online retailer Kogan announced it is raising $115 million as part of a plan to expand its services. Kogan has been hungry over the past few years, snapping up Dick Smith's online business and, more recently, furniture retailer Matt Blatt. Kogan says it is “well positioned to take advantage of current market conditions” in part because of its “low cost of doing business”.
10. The coronavirus‘ death rate – a calculation of deaths out of total confirmed cases – varies by place and population. Worldwide, the death rate, or “case-fatality rate,” has doubled since March. Business Insider asked three epidemiologists why the death rate has grown, and they pointed to two problems with the calculation: The metric relies on testing, and there’s a delay in data. Interesting read.
Some cool space stuff for you to gawk at. An new SpaceX video shows what it's like to be inside the nose cone of a Falcon 9 rocket launching Starlink internet satellites into orbit.
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