1. Australia will avoid Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminium after the US President announced he’d struck a deal with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Australia joins Canada and Mexico on the exemption list. Turnbull confirmed the deal, but denied it was part of a broader defence arrangement.
Spoke to PM @TurnbullMalcolm of Australia. He is committed to having a very fair and reciprocal military and trade relationship. Working very quickly on a security agreement so we don’t have to impose steel or aluminum tariffs on our ally, the great nation of Australia!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2018
2. It’s on, but where it will happen is another question. Trump’s administration says it won’t rule out hosting the meeting at the White House after Trump agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un following an unprecedented invitation delivered by South Korea last week. The White House hasn’t offered very many specifics about when or where the meeting would be held, as negotiations are still underway.
3. Markets were boosted on Friday night by US employment data which absolutely smashed expectations. There were 313,000 jobs added in February — easily beating an already strong forecast of 205,000. And while more people found work, the data showed wage growth moderated with a 2.6% rise — down from the 2.9% gain in January which set off a round of panic in markets about the prospect of rising inflation and higher interest rates. More on that from Sam Jacobs in our weekly markets rundown here.
4. These people are ridiculous. Bitcoin holders (or “hodlers” as they call themselves) are heaping abuse on a lawyer whose job is to sell bitcoin recovered from a massive 2014 cryptocurrency theft. Here is a typical comment about him on Reddit’s r/Bitcoin page:
“Nobuaki Kobayashi is some kind of special moron selling the bottom of a correction pushing the price down even further.”
The more he sells, the lower the price goes, the angrier the hodlers get. But as Business Insider’s Jim Edwards points out: Bitcoin represents nothing except its price, and the price reflects supply and demand. Complaining about sales that depress the price of bitcoin is therefore like complaining about bitcoin itself.
5. The VW ‘dieselgate’ scandal continues. World-first testing in Australia on the recalled cars reveals they use up to 14% more fuel after an enforced pollution fix, and still emit four times the allowable level of noxious gases. Almost 100,000 Australians have been affected.
6. Chaos. UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan to register millions of EU citizens risks descending into “chaos,” according to a senior former Home Office official. The concerns echo criticism from MPs that the Home Office is underprepared and understaffed for the massive logistical operation. Under the plans, applicants will need to prove through an online app that they have been resident in the UK for at least five years. While most applicants will be able to do so, the process will be complicated by those who are unable to prove their citizenship as easily.
7. Robots won’t take our jobs after all. The head of Microsoft Australia says recent research points to a boom in economic growth in Australia as digital technology spreads. Steven Worrall told The Australian the share of jobs likely to be impacted by tech “is somewhere in the 20 per cent range, not the high-40s,” adding that “Australia is clearly on the digital transformation fast track… Within four years we expect to see an additional $45 billion on GDP derived from digital products and services.”
8. Nick “Honey Badger” Cummins is back… as the next Bachelor. According to the Daily Telegraph, the former Wallabies star is set to fill the role this year as the network seeks to continue its winning formula following casting Sophie Monk as The Bachelorette last season. Cummins, who is known for his Aussie larrikin personality, has gained notoriety for his hilarious post-match interviews. If this is true, we will definitely be tuning in to see how this translates in the Bachelor mansion:
9. Up to 500 people are being advised to wash their possessions after police found nerve agent traces in a pub and an Italian restaurant in the UK. It’s a week since ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found slumped on a bench from poisoning in a shopping centre in Salisbury. People who might have been in the area around the time of the attack are being advised to take a number of preventative measures in order to avoid prolonged exposure to the poison. Here’s what they are being told to do:
- Wash clothes in a washing machine
- Items which need dry-cleaning should be double-bagged in plastic until further notice
- Phones, handbags, and electronics should be wiped down with baby wipes. Those wipes should be bagged in plastic and then binned.
- Other items such as jewellery and glasses can be washed with detergent and warm water.
10. Devastating. Australian Winter Paralympics flag bearer Joany Badenhorst has been forced out of her event after a “nasty” training accident — it is the second Paralympics in a row the snowboarder has been injured in training just before her event. It will be a blow to Australia’s medal hopes too, as the talented amputee is ranked No.1 in the world for snowboard cross and third for banked slalom.
BONUS ITEM: Frontline could be about to make a comeback, according to producer and cast member Jane Kennedy who is in “interesting” preliminary stage talks to revive the TV show. That could mean you might be about to see more of this:
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