10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

It wasn’t all bad. Picture: Getty Images

Good morning.

1. The death toll from the Indonesian earthquake and tsunami is now above 830. Palu, the city home of some 350,000 residents, appeared to take the brunt of the disaster, with waves reported up to six metres high hitting its coast. We have pictures and video here, some of which are graphic. In case you missed it, here’s the most viewed video doing the rounds:

The toll, which so far doesn’t include any Australians, is expected to rise, with rescue efforts hampered by a lack of heavy machinery. There are reports of looting and nearly 600 inmates at a Palu prison are also on the run after the walls of their jail collapsed. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called Indonesian President Joko Widodo to express his condolences and pledged: “If he needs our help, he’ll have it.”

2. A fresh political crisis could be ablout to hit Italy, and it threatens to trigger a major market meltdown. The coalition late last week agreed to set Italy’s budget deficit at 2.4% of GDP – far above the 1.6% level that technocratic finance minister Giovanni Tria had lobbied for. It puts Italy on a collision course with the EU and its fiscal responsibility rules. Here’s all you need to know about it.

3. The crypto world is going crazy for “stablecoins”. For the rest of us, that’s like a crypto coin, except with value pegged to the real-world assets like the US dollar or gold. Here’s what the USD price of a popular one, Tether, looks like:

Source: Coinmarketcap.com

The point is people are cooling down from seeing crypto volatility as a way to make quick cash. Stablecoins are for those who want the future of crypto to be about quick transfers without risking it all in a value plunge.

4. The Grand Finals. One was thrilling, one was a bust. In the AFL, Collingwood led for 95% of the game, but much to Eagles and non-Magpie fans’ delight, it was the first 95%. The AFL Premiership cup is headed back West for the first time in 12 years after the Eagles’ nailbiting 11.13 (79) to 11.8 (74) win. The NRL title went to the Sydney Roosters in a 21-6 win that gave Melbourne Storm’s Billy Slater a less than ideal ending to a stellar career. The Sydney crowd, sadly, ensured Slater’s last couple of playing hours and on-field interviews were drowned out with boos.

5. And Test rugby is set for a major shake-up, with a 12-team inter-hemisphere plan out that could be introduced as early as 2020. The game’s bosses left a Sydney meeting late last week without making a statement but it is believed to be slated for the July and November international windows. Worringly for Wallabies fans, it will only feature “the world’s best sides”. There’s a second division for the rest.

6. Reimagining you. Recent owners of Apple’s brand-new iPhone XS and XS Max are claiming that selfies taken with the new iPhones are making their skin look noticeably smoother than previous iPhones. Here’s BI’s own Avery Hartmans given the iPhone XS Max makeover:

Avery Hartmans

Of course, Apple and Apple fans have a slippery theory at hand. It’s “noise reduction”. And if you really care about these kind of big issues, you might want to check out our gallery of the five best designed notches in the top of smartphone screens.

7. It’s heating up. The US Navy’s guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur challenged China’s sea claims in the South China Sea. It conducted a “freedom-of-navigation operation”, sailing within 12 nautical miles of Chinese-held territories in the Spratly Islands. China recently called US bomber flights in the area “provocative” and just this weekend conducted “live fire shooting drills” in the South China Sea to improve its combat capabilities.

8. Elon Musk did something dumb, possibly for fun. He typed eight words and one bad-joke number into Twitter and posted the missive to his 22 million followers: “Am considering taking Tesla private at $US420. Funding secured.” He now could be barred from serving as an officer of a public company> Here’s why Matthew DeBord finds it “extremely troubling” that the SEC could crush Tesla based on an ill-advised tweet. Meanwhile, Musk has told Tesla employees the company is “very close to achieving profitability” and their work is about to “achieve an epic victory beyond all expectations”.

9. Boris is blowing it. A new poll found 29% of British voters would prefer Jeremy Corbyn as their next PM compared to 25% backing Boris Johnson. Which actually leaves 46% of Brits not wanting to be forced to choose from either. Sad! Over at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, current PM Theresa May gave a standing ovation to a speaker who called Johnson “offensive” and “irrelevant”.

10. Kanye West for President. As in the US President, Donald Trump, who West went on a long rant in favour of after a performance on “Saturday Night Live”. It didn’t make the final cut, but comedian Chris Rock got it in an Instagram story, while giggling and quietly whispering “My god”:

West announced he had changed his name to “Ye”, his new album was called “Yandhi”, and reaffirmed he might run for office in 2020.

Have a great day.

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