10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

NASAAt the time this photo was taken, in 2013, the most an astronaut could earn was $117,800 per year.

Good morning.

1. Trump could be making a move. The US President has signalled an openness to move on gun control and is in talks with Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, about his bipartisan bill to improve federal compliance with criminal background checks on gun buyers. It comes in the wake of the Florida high school shooting last week that left 17 people dead.

2. Bitcoin be crazy. There’s a lot going on in the crypto world this morning. Firstly, a bizarre battle is emerging in the world of cryptocurrencies after Poland’s central bank was accused of hiring YouTubers to “start a smear campaign” against cryptocurrencies in the country. It has also been revealed by The New York Times that a number of thieves across the globe are reportedly harassing – and, in some cases, abducting – people that have become rich trading cryptos. Bitcoin is trading back above $US11,000 this morning.

3. Down, down, down. Home prices across Australia continue to fall despite a rebound in auction clearance rates. Sydney, the largest and most expensive market, led the decline with prices now going backwards, adjusted for inflation.

4. “I’m not going anywhere.” That’s coming from Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who refuses to resign following the revelations of his affair with a former staffer, who is pregnant with his child. And with a lack of power to sack him, it looks like Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is looking to other avenues. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the PM’s office is reportedly actively working with journalists to leak against and destabilise Joyce to force him out.

5. Ka-ching! Spending across Australia grew at the fastest pace in more than four years in January, and spending in retail stores recorded the largest boost in more than eight years. These are encouraging signs but Commsec says it’s too early to call a sustainable upswing.

6. The woman at the centre of allegations made against Geoffrey Rush has been revealed as emerging stage actress Eryn Jean Norvill. Her identity was made known after the Oscar-winning actor yesterday lost his bid to censor The Daily Telegraph’s defence in his defamation case against the ­Sydney newspaper. It is alleged that Rush inappropriately touched Norvill while they were on stage in a Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear. Rush ­denies the allegations.

7. How much would you expect to earn for dedicating your life to becoming an astronaut? Would $80,400 a year do it? That’s what a new NASA astronaut with a GS-12 grade and Step 1 experience is paid. More-qualified astronauts with a GS-13 pay grade and several years of experience earn a salary of up to $124,300. Read more about the requirements and gruelling selection process it takes to even make it into NASA’s program here.

8. Cobra Gold is back. That means soldiers are drinking snake blood. The annual military exercise is for US Marines and one of the largest in the Indo-Pacific region. This year, six other countries are participating, including Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, and Singapore.

Getty ImagesA US marine is fed the blood of a cobra during the Cobra Gold 2018.

See more photos here.

9. Oh no. A French figure skater’s “worst nightmare” came true when her costume malfunctioned in the middle of a Winter Olympics routine. A clasp holding her glittery dress together came undone, leaving her chest partially exposed on live television. The pair kept going and still returned a strong score. In fact, they could go on to win gold despite the malfunction.

10. That’s all folks. The closing ceremony is happening on Sunday, February 25 at 10pm AEDT. The closing ceremony will include an elaborately choreographed routine that will bring together music, dance, and art. K-pop will undoubtedly feature. After all, it did not take long for the 2012 smash hit “Gangnam Style”, by global sensation PSY, to play at the opening ceremony. Here’s how you can watch it.

Have a great day.

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