10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Getty ImagesTeam Norway’s ski jumper Robert Johansson playing pool.

Good morning.

1. Cryptocurrencies “could drop to near zero at any time”. The warning from the founder of ethereum, the second most valuable cryptocurrency in the world, came via a tweet on Saturday.

Meanwhile, a former JP Morgan trader — turned Bitcoin enthusiast — says the crypto financial revolution is coming.

2. Australian auction clearance rates may have bottomed. Australian auction clearance rates continued to improve last week despite higher levels of stock hitting the market. Sydney, Australia’s largest and most expensive housing market, led the national improvement with a rate of 74.3% across 718 scheduled auctions, up from the 50% range that was seen in the final quarter of 2017.

3. Australian voters are big fans of the bonk ban. In fact, 64% of voters are in favour of it, according to a poll published today. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull introduced a new clause to the ministerial code of conduct that makes sex between ministers and staff a sackable offence in response to the revelations about Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce’s relationship with a former staffer, who is expecting Joyce’s child in April.

4. A passenger plane in Iran crashed midflight prompting fears that the 66 people on board, including a child, have died. The plane came down in the Zagros mountains, near the city of Semirom. But the crash site is yet to be found.

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5. US markets will be closed today for the President’s Day holiday. And with Chinese markets off on holidays too, that means there will be little in the way of major economic data and a slow start to the week for markets in Asia. The Aussie dollar is sitting just above the 79 cent level after pulling back from highs during Friday’s trading session.

6. Churros, pranks, and hallway bobsleds: That’s what Winter Olympic athletes get up to when they’re not competing. While it might be easy to assume that some competitors preparing for an event adhere to a strict diet, work out in the gym, and go to bed early, these photographs from Getty, Instagram, and Twitter reveal that others prefer to let loose.

7. The Great White Shark turned heads of state match-maker. Australian golfing great Greg Norman has revealed the moment former Australian treasurer Joe Hockey called him to ask for Donald Trump’s number so Turnbull could call to congratulate him on his presidency.

I don’t normally give out cell phone numbers of people in my database, but considering it was for the Prime Minister to call the President of the United States, I thought that would be the right thing to do.

While he admits the bromance “started off a little bit rocky” their relationship is now “extremely strong”. The ABC has more. Turnbull is expected to meet Trump on February 23 in the US.

8. Is the end of the recycling bin in Australia near? China’s sudden ban on the importation of recyclable waste has turned the economics of recycling markets in Australia on its head. Business Insider’s Chris Pash takes a deep dive on the mounting crisis facing the local waste industry and what could happen if urgent action isn’t taken by state and federal governments.

9. “Do you feel lucky, greenie punks?” It’s a comment that has landed Queensland Liberal National party politician George Christensen in hot water after he posted it to Facebook with a photo of him aiming a gun. He has been referred to police over the matter.

10. Ouch! The Daytona 500 got off to a wild start when seven cars crashed on the final lap of Stage 1 and caused chaos. But maybe that’s what NASCAR had hoped for. Stage racing was introduced for the 2017 season as a way to bring more interest to the races in the earlier laps. With playoff points on the line for being in first place at the end of each stage, the hope was that drivers would be more aggressive at those moments in the race. It worked:

Have a great week.

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