Good morning! Lots happened overnight. Here’s what you need to know…
1. Russia is massing troops on the Ukraine border. US officials say there’s potential for a large-scale invasion as Russian president Vladimir Putin fortifies his border with the Ukraine. But Putin says there’s a significant humanitarian crisis about to unfold in Ukraine – which could be used as his rationale for sending in troops in what would be, in anyone’s terms, an invasion.
2. US markets fell hard on the news, with the Dow off 0.8%, the S&P down 0.9% and the Nasdaq down 0.7%, despite better-than-expected domestic economic news with the non-manufacturing PMI and factory beating expectations. ASX futures are sharply lower ahead of the start of trade in Australia, with the September contract down 31 points.
3. The US economy could be in for an imminent boost, however, with a new PwC survey showing 36% of private companies are expecting to make major investments in the next 12 months. That’s the highest level in two years.
4. Australia unveiled a new suite of anti-terrorism laws, including a new mandatory data retention regime which will require internet service providers to keep metadata records for users that authorities could then retrieve to investigate someone’s online activities. The government will also restrict Australians from travelling to some countries which are known hotbeds of extremist military training or radicalisation. The data retention decision, announced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott with Attorney General George Brandis yesterday, is a significant expansion of the power of Australia’s domestic intelligence agencies – basically it means the government is ordering the monitoring of the online activity of individual citizens in great detail. Civil rights groups are opposed as you would expect but it will also be interesting to hear the views of ISPs in the coming days.
5. Tony Abbott has taken back control of the agenda. It’s a secondary point but something that shouldn’t be missed amid the announcements yesterday: Abbott’s “leader’s call” to drop the proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act – which had angered ethnic community groups around the country – puts an end to a messy distraction led by arch-conservatives who sometimes had ugly arguments for the change (such as Brandis saying people had “the right to be bigots”). It also alienated voters in crucial seats in western Sydney who had, in recent years, swung to the Coalition.
6. Rupert Murdoch has walked away from Time Warner deal. Time Warner’s stock is tanking in after hours trade, down 11%, while Murdoch’s Fox is up 7%. Fox announced it to the market this morning, blaming Time Warner’s board and management refusing to even discuss the offer, despite the approach being friendly, and the impact on Fox’s stock price. It’s off the table for now.
7. A 72-hour truce has begun in Gaza. Israeli troops have pulled out of the territory ahead of the ceasefire, aimed at allowing negotiations to end the month-long war. Moments before the ceasefire was due to take effect, Hamas launched a volley of long-range rockets at Jerusalem, Reuters reports.
8. Ever wonder if you’re a narcissist? Now there’s a simple test.
9. Apple will unveil the new iPhone on September 9th in the US, it’s been confirmed. Here’s everything we know about the device so far. Oh, and don’t upgrade your iPhone for a few weeks if you have one now.
10. Stat of the day. The rise of instant messaging applications will increase the number of text messages sent in Britain from 160 billion last year to some 300 billion this year. Most people send about seven texts a day, according to Deloitte, but with IMs, it’s around 46 messages daily or around three for every waking hour. Bonus: most of it is flirting. And people wonder why Zuckerberg bought WhatsApp.
Bonus item: Michael Jordan’s still got it. Here’s the 51-year-old legend scooting around draining 11 in a row at a visit to a school.
Have a great day. I’m on Twitter: @colgo
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