10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Arkaitz GarroKnock knock.

Good morning.

1. The new chair of the US Federal Reserve made his first public statements this morning – and investors don’t like what they heard, with US stocks down about 1% and bond yields higher. “What we’ve seen is incoming data that suggests a strengthening in the economy,” he told members of the House Financial Services Committee. His rosy outlook was enough to prompt markets to become nervous about the prospect of four rather than three rate rises this year.

2. China is set to let Xi Jinping rule for life. The Chinese Communist Party is thinking about changing the constitution to get rid of term limits for the presidency. Though the title “president” does not come with significant power, the announcement is still extremely important to China’s immediate future. “It is sort of the death knell to some extent for people who oppose him,” Elizabeth Economy, the director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, told Business Insider. Meanwhile, many Chinese citizens responded to the news by posting memes of Winnie the Pooh on social media. The ongoing joke is that Xi looks similar to Pooh, with critics often using the cartoon in a derogatory way.

3. Bitcoin is definitely a bubble, Ethereum even more so, says Goldman Sachs’ investment chief. “We think cryptocurrencies in their current format, meaning that in the current incarnation, are in a bubble,” Sharmin Mossavar-Rahmani told Business Insider. “The bitcoin prices are astronomical. Then we compare that to Ether, and Ether is even more astronomical. So clearly, these valuations don’t make sense to us. In addition, we think that these currencies have major shortcomings.”

4. Killer cryptos, literally: Bill Gates says cryptocurrency is has “caused deaths in a fairly direct way”. He argues the ease with which people can anonymously buy drugs is a major problem, and suggested that cryptocurrencies are used to launder money and fund terrorist organisations. He might be one of the richest people in the world but he’s not a fan of digital currencies. It comes as the Australian government announces it will use data-matching and identification checks to pursue bitcoin investors for their tax liabilities.

5. The “bananaphone” from “The Matrix” is back. The Nokia 8110 “slider” phone has been featured at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress. While it’s not meant to compete with the rest of the smartphones in the market, but it’s still packing some modern technology, which might make it a nice companion to a more full-fledged device.

6. The seed vault built to store every known crop on the planet is in danger. Home to seeds from more than a million crops from all over the world, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is meant to be a resource that could come to humanity’s rescue if things go really wrong due to climate change, nuclear war, or some other kind of global disaster. But given its increasingly important role amid mounting climate change threats, the Norwegian government wants to upgrade the facilities and says it’s going to cost $16.3 million.

7. Doomsday of a different kind. We went to the major South African city that’s approaching “Day Zero” of an unprecedented water crisis and discovered what it’s like to be a tourist there. From public toilets to restaurants in Cape Town, people are asked to use hand sanitizer to clean their hands instead of soap and water. Residents are also being urged to take showers in under two minutes, hotel pools have been emptied, and “If it’s yellow, let it mellow” is a common refrain.

Emily Cohn/Business Insider

8. Say goodbye to cat flaps. An engineer built a facial recognition gadget to notify him when his cat wants to come inside. Arkaitz Garro used a Raspberry Pi mini-computer, mounted with a camera, running image-recognition and motion-detection software. The device only took him a few hours to make, and the software is available online, so anyone can make their own. Best of all, it will only recognise his cat, thanks to facial detection tools.

9. Forget flowers. Serena Williams’ husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, put all others to shameby installing four giant billboards in California saying she’s the G.M.O.A.T aka “greatest mother of all time”. After delaying her comeback in January, Williams will be greeted by the billboards on the interstate toward Palms Springs where she will compete at the Indian Wells Masters on March 8, the first time since the birth of their daughter.

10. Barbra Streisand says she successfully made two clones of her pet dog. The Coton de Tulear dogs were cloned from cells taken from the mouth and stomach of her 14-year-old dog Samantha, who died in 2017. While they may look the same, Streisand says they have different personalities. “I’m waiting for them to get older so I can see if they have her [Samantha’s] brown eyes and seriousness.”

OK, then.

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