Hello! Here’s what you need to know on Tuesday.
1. Donald Trump’s new White House communications director lasted just 10 days. Anthony Scaramucci, aka “The Mooch” has been ousted, reportedly at the urging of new White House chief of staff, John Kelly, in his first day serving the President.
2. Trump was behind the misleading original statement about Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer. The Washington Post reports the President overruled advisers who wanted to be truthful about the 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, and “personally dictated” the statement aboard Air Force One as he returned from the G20 summit. It was shown to be false days later, when Trump Jr. published email correspondence with a British music producer who organized the meeting.
3. Key White House officials were tricked into replying to a British email prankster. Among those fooled was Scaramucci, who replied to emails pretending to be from fired chief of staff Reince Priebus, saying that he “knew what [Priebus] did”, warning “rest assured we were prepared”. Trump’s nominee for ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman Jr, and Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert were also caught out.
4. Venezuelan opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma have been taken from their homes. They were under house arrest following months of riots in the leadup to Sunday’s vote on constitutional change to create a super-government opponents fear will turn the country into a dictatorship. Meanwhile, the US government imposed sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in response to the ballot, which Washington denounced as a “sham” vote.
5. Chinese President Xi Jinping issued an ominous warning about threats to the country’s “territorial integrity”. Speaking in Beijing to mark the 90th anniversary of the PLA, Xi’s declaration that no individual, organisation, or political party can “expect us to swallow consequences that damage our sovereignty, security and developmental interest” could have serious implications the disputed islands and surrounding waters in the South China Sea.
6. Qatar has filed a World Trade Organization (WTO) complaint over trade sanctions by surrounding Gulf states nations. The dispute process means Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates will be forced to sit down and negotiate with Qatar and if a settlement can’t be reached in 60 days, the issue would go to a WTO-appointed panel.
7. Bitcoin is rallying to near record highs ahead of its deadline for a new trading platform. Bitcoin is back above $US2,900 ahead of a likely split in the currency due within hours (10.30pm eastern Australian time/1.30pm GMT). A short time ago, Bitcoin was trading at $US2,912, not far off its all-time high of $US2,980, reached on 12 June this year.
8. HBO was hacked and Game of Thrones material was stolen. HBO confirmed it “experienced a cyber incident, which resulted in the compromise of proprietary information”. Hackers claim they took 1.5 terabytes of data, and Entertainment Weekly reports episodes of Ballers and Room 104 have been put online, as well as part of the script for Game of Thrones. No GoT episodes have appeared online at this stage.
9. A higher dollar is becoming a problem for the Australian economy. The Reserve Bank of Australia left interest rates unchanged at 1.5% today, but changed its views with a more forceful tone recent appreciation in the Australian dollar. “The higher exchange rate is expected to contribute to subdued price pressures in the economy. It is also weighing on the outlook for output and employment,” the bank said.
10. Rome is running out of water. The Eternal City’s water utility proposed switching off the taps to 1.5 million residents for eight hours a day. City officials switched off iconic fountains, and nearby small towns have already resorted to rationing. The summer heat is partly to blame amid one of the driest times in history.
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