Good morning, and welcome to Friday. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Here’s what you need to know:
- It being Friday, let’s start with the sport. Australia are on top in the cricket at Centurion after a blistering display by Mitchell Johnson, including a brutal ball that dismissed Graeme Smith – it was heading for the South African captain’s teeth before he fended it away with an upright bat and popped the cherry in the air. Thanks largely to Johnson, South Africa were 6-140 at stumps in reply to Australia’s 397 in the first innings. There are video highlights here with that belter at Graeme Smith around the 38sec mark.
- The surprise increase in the unemployment rate to 6.0% has changed Australia’s political dynamics, with the Opposition seeking to pin the blame for the increasing rate of job losses on the Government. It certainly puts Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey under pressure to manage expectations – remember, most economists expect the unemployment rate to settle between 6.2% and 6.5%, but it appears the jobs are being shed faster than expected – and changes the backdrop heading towards Hockey’s first Budget in May.
- Hockey has outlined four conditions that need to be met for Qantas to receive aid: whether it has previously-imposed legal restrictions, whether it’s an essential national service, whether its competitors are being helped by other governments and whether it’s doing what it can to run the business effectively and reform itself. So the focus is now on Qantas earnings on February 27th when it will also outline its strategic review.
- Fairfax Media reports Schapelle Corby will be thrown back in prison with parole revoked if she proceeds with a television interview with Channel 7. Local authorities say an interview would cause “restlessness” in the local community.
- Former Howard government minister and South Australian senator Nick Michin is about to be appointed Australia’s consul-general in New York. What a gig! It almost makes you want to question whether smoking causes lung cancer.
- It turns out there were warrants out for the arrest of the man who killed his 11-year-old son, Luke Batty, at cricket training on Wednesday afternoon in Melbourne.
- Rio Tinto has beat market expectations with its results – profit up 45% to $5.99 billion and a surprise dividend increase. The improvement is largely attributable by an austerity drive by boss Sam Walsh.
- Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlson takes a look at the truth about the Facebook News Feed here – it’s one of the best summaries of the issues surrounding the product which has been a huge talking point in the technology, media and marketing industries over the past two months.
- The business world is agog at the proposed $45 billion mega-merger between US cable company Comcast and Time Warner (the likes of Telstra’s David Thodey and News Corp will be watching with interest too). One phrase that caught some attention – and has employees of both companies nervous – was that the deal would create $US1.5 billion in “operating efficiencies” for the new company if the merger goes ahead.
- The Copenhagen zoo is thinking about killing another giraffe. Can’t Princess Mary do something?
Bonus item: If you’re looking for that perfect gift for your loved one, Crown Melbourne has four bottles of the world’s most expensive champagne, the 1907 Heidsieck & Co. Here’s a video explaining the story behind it – Crown had 22 bottles at one point; now they’re down to four, with some of the damage coming at a dinner when they served eight bottles of the stuff.
Have a cracking weekend. I’m on Twitter: @colgo
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