10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Founder of WeWork Adam Neumann is laughing all the way to the bank. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan, Getty Images for the WeWork Creator Awards)

Happy Thursday and don’t forget to grab your golden parachute on the way out.

1. It’s happened: WeWork is getting bailed out and its executives look set to walk away with millions after the company began its months-long implosion. Japanese SoftBank’s $9.5 billion rescue package will keep the company afloat, while details are now emerging that recently-named co-CEOS Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham will each receive millions in severance packages. That’s on top of CEO Adam Neumann’s $1.7 billion payout. Seeing as they oversaw a company that was on track to run out of cash in just a few weeks, those payouts are more likely to be to get them out of the business altogether than to reward their good work.

2. Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo has launched an extraordinary attack on Australia as pressure mounts on him. He claims there are “dark forces” in the “deep state” moving against him, and called Australia greedy and fearful of China. In the last twelves months, he has had his citizenship application denied, been linked in an ICAC hearing to a $100,000 cash donation to NSW Labor, and is currently being chased for $140 million by the ATO. Here’s the full list of what we know about him.

3. Facebook’s plan to launch the new digital currency Libra would be called off if US regulators don’t approve it , Zuckerberg has admitted. Libra has looked embattled from the start, with major partners like Paypal, Mastercard and Visa already pulling out. Given steadfast opposition to it among US lawmakers so far, it appears Zuck might be waving the white flag.

4. Punters take note: Trump impeachment odds have hit a record high 75% on US betting website PredictIt after US ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor gave a “damning” testimony to Congress. Those odds mean that the site sees a high chance at least one article of impeachment will be passed through Congress before Trump’s first term is up. Of course, to be officially impeached, it will then need to be signed off on in the Senate as well — an unlikely proposition given Trump’s Republican Party control there. More exciting than baseball at any rate.

5. Australia’s biggest bank has been slipping cash to customers after a major outage left Australians financially stranded. The Commonwealth Bank has begun quietly slipping $50 into around 100,000 customers’ bank accounts, with the payment labelled as ‘Sorry from CBA’. With the outage affecting customers since last Thursday, it may be too little, too late for those who still had their mortgage repayments taken without receiving their salaries.

6. Russia and Turkey have signed a ‘historic’ deal to consolidate their power in Syria as the US pulls its troops out. They will establish a “safe zone” between Turkish forces and the Kurds — an ethnic group at odds with the Turkish government. Proving the power of semantics, Kurdish forces have claimed that under the new deal, they’ll be shot if found within the “safe zone”.

7. Just days after Qantas completed its non-stop research flight from New York to Sydney, Air New Zealand has thrown its hat in the ring by announcing a direct flight from Auckland to New York. It wants to run direct flights from Auckland to the Big Apple, in a flight time of little over 15 hours, allowing Australians to make a short stop-over, stretch their legs and then settle in for the long-haul. It reckons it’ll have it ready to go by October next year, right in time to make a white Christmas.

8. Plant-based meat seems forever on the up and up with companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Meat doing a roaring trade abroad. Australia too is getting in on the action, with a growing list of local fast-food offering everything from planted-based burgers to burritos.

9. Boost Juice has been kept from listing on the ASX after parent company Retail Zoo had its plans for an IPO scuttled by a major investor. Bain Capital suspended its plans to go public, telling Business Insider Australia it was concerned about the current IPO market. It comes after Latitude Financial pulled the plug just two days before its $3.2 billion float. Who will be next?

10. For $US103 million, the Church of Scientology has just bought up a huge chunk of a city in Florida. The investment has made Clearwater known as the first Scientology city. That money has claimed an enormous 40 hectares of land and property in the heart of the city, owned almost exclusively by the controversial church. It makes you wonder whether it’s scepticism or house prices that have kept them largely out of Australian cities.

Bonus item

If a whale dies at the bottom of the ocean, does it really die? Well, yes, of course, it does, and it causes a big stir. With few other sources of food at the bottom of the deep blue, it becomes quite a party for the weird and whacky things that dwell there.

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