10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Scott Barbour/Getty ImagesWhite whale Migaloo starred at the Opening Ceremony for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games on April 4, 2018.

Good morning.

1. FACEBOOK BOMBSHELL. The giant social media platform has admitted that “most” of Facebook’s 2 billion users may have had their personal data skimmed from the site by “malicious actors”, and up to 87 million users may have been affected by the leak of personal information to Trump-linked data firm Cambridge Analytica – a number that was much bigger than previous estimates. More than 300,000 Australians may have had their personal information exposed in that leak. CEO Mark Zuckerberg will face the US Congress next week to answer questions regarding the company’s data scandal. Despite the saga, Zuckerberg says he is still the best person to run Facebook. Oh, and BTW, it turns out Facebook scans conversations you have on its Messenger app in order to ensure that the text and images are meeting its “community standards”.

2. US stocks staged a massive comeback, rebounding from a 510-point drop on Wednesday to surge more than 700 points off daily lows. Losses in early trading followed newly announced China tariffs, spooking investors amid escalating fears of a global trade war, but nerves were eased midday after Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic advisor, told Fox Business that the trade war with China will end in a “pot of gold”. He also told reporters that the tariffs may not even go into effect, as they are part of a negotiating tactic.


3. Meanwhile, China is retaliating to Donald Trump’s massive tariffs by aiming directly at his supporters — soybean producers in the US Midwest. China announced plans to impose tariffs on 106 US goods that have a combined trading value of more than $US50 billion annually. The proposed measures include tariffs of 25% on soybeans, automobiles, and chemicals. Soybeans are the largest agricultural export to China from the US, totalling $US14.2 billion in 2016. Trump won eight of last year’s top 10 soybean-producing states in the 2016 election. The move appears to have a distinct message for the US President. That news was followed by a swift sell-off in soybeans futures, dropping 4.41% following the news.

As both sides attempt to send political messages with the products they choose for the tariffs, experts say the fight between China and the US is getting closer to a full-blown trade war.

4. Housing sales are tanking in Australia’s largest cities. That’s thanks to a discrepancy between the growing size of the country’s housing market — the number of homes in Australia now surpasses a record 10 million — and decreasing property sales, especially in the major capitals, the most expensive markets. More on that here.

5. Cryptos won’t replace traditional currencies. That’s according to Australian fintech leader Loretta Joseph, chair of the Australian Digital Commerce Association (ADCA). While bitcoin and other cryptos are an exciting new asset class, if you think they’re about to turn the global financial system on its head, think again. “To get the scalability, you’d need huge adoption. You can’t tell me we’ll go and replace entire monetary systems,” she says. “Do I think bitcoin is going to be a game-changer for global economies? No I don’t.” Overnight major cryptocurrencies fell sharply, with the digital currency market losing more than $US7 billion in just a half an hour. Litecoin was the worst hit, sinking 9.4%.

6. Scott Morrison has called out the big problem with a backbench plan to build new coal-fired power stations in Australia, saying it would not provide cheap electricity as claimed, but power that could be twice as expensive. With the Monash Forum demanding the government invest up to $4 billion to build a High Efficiency, Low Emissions (HELE) coal-fired plant in Victoria, Morrison says such a project would take many years to build and the electricity it produced would be far more expensive than that generated by existing coal-fired power stations.

7. The big banks’ executive bonuses is under regulatory fire after the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) found the way they paid executives failed to punish bankers for bad behaviour and encouraged excessive risk-taking. The Australian reports a review into the banks found incentive bonuses “fell short of the better ­practices” set out in the regulator’s guidance on executive pay.

8. The Commonwealth Games kicks off with a bang! From Christina Anu singing My Island Home to Daryl Braithwaite singing Horses, Delta Goodrem and a touch of John Farnham, organisers ensured viewers of the Opening Ceremony got the full Aussie experience. But it appears they got more than they bargained for when a dancer during Ricki-Lee Coulter’s performance experienced a wardrobe malfunction and flashed her backside to the cameras. Unfortunately the hundreds of towels around still didn’t manage to cover the accident.

It wasn’t the strangest thing to happen though. Apparently, Tonga walked out to the tune of I Touch Myself by Divinyls. OK.


9. Stop using pie charts. They are easily the worst way to convey information ever developed in the history of data visualisation. And it’s not just us that thinks so. Data scientist Edward Tufte has written extensively on the failure of the pie chart. Here’s why they are so bad. Tufte’s solution?

10. Australian researchers have captured amazing drone footage of right whale mothers and calves playing at the Head of Bight, South Australia. The whales journey thousands of kilometres from their sub-Antarctic feeding grounds to the area to give birth.

Have a great week.

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