A LETTER FROM THE TRADE WARS
There’s an ongoing battle in Europe between competition and free trade supporters, and proponents of “national champions”, like Emmanuel Macron (following in the dirigiste footsteps of predecessors like De Gaulle). Macron lost a major battle against the EU earlier in the year to create a European rail giant, so is now trying to reshape the EU instead.
Meanwhile the EU is reconsidering punishing foreign governments that favour local firms over European firms in procurement projects — which is interesting given Australia, especially at state level, is a major offender when it comes to governments wasting taxpayer money by demanding local content. And ASPI has had a crack at properly estimating the cost of building our new fleet of submarines, up to one-third of which will be wasted by the French building much of them here for South Australian political considerations.
THE WEEK IN TECH BRO
Airbnb is surprisingly easy to game for rip-off merchants, and the company doesn’t seem to care. Well done to Uber, which just reported losing US$1 billion in a single quarter. The world sat back and watched while Russia launched a major cyberattack on Ukraine. But the silence was mere laziness — we’re complicit, says one of the world’s best cybersecurity journalists, Andy Greenberg.
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Elsewhere, Twitter’s new ban on political ads sounds good but falls apart on even the most cursory examination — now Facebook is being pressured to adopt a similar ban. This Israeli firm helps regimes spy on WhatsApp. This colourfully written piece wonders what newspaper execs told themselves in 1996 about the internet. And modern day private equity bros kill a rare successful internet news model.
HUMANS ARE AWFUL
Americans are still subjecting women to “virginity exams” (otherwise known as sexual assault), while the bizarre US obsession with curtailing women’s reproductive rights has serious economic impacts. The resignation of congresswoman Katie Hill has sent the wrong message about revenge porn. Online anorexia forums pose a serious threat to sufferers — but can also bring some benefits, in the right circumstances. Darcie Wilder goes to an influencer seminar so you don’t have to. For the megalomaniac who has everything? Sales of bulletproof (and bombproof) cars are, erm, booming.
For decades, Glasgow has had a shocking mental health problem. Can it be addressed with urban design? The necessary challenge of developing a more dementia-friendly society. Just because the boats have stopped coming doesn’t mean our region has any fewer asylum seekers — how Australia has exited from a regional solution to refugee flows.
To be shore to be shore? (Sorry.) Ireland and the UK are arguing over a tiny rock in the Atlantic, which will have major consequences for fishing, especially after Brexit.
And a profile of Dover, where illegal immigrants, Brexit and economic decline leave a town between very different worlds.
Here’s the closest thing you’ll get, short of needing a PhD in maths, to a coherent explainer of the theory that time is an emergent property of the basic structure of the universe, rather than a fundamental characteristic. Congratulations to Voyager 2 for doing what so many of us would like to do, and exiting the entire solar system, thereby confirming the nature of the heliosphere and how interstellar wind interacts with it. Thinking about how to communicate with aliens has evolved somewhat since we sent “a mix tape and nudes” to say hi on Voyager. Back here on planet Earth, kinda, the US army is partnering with a UFO organisation to investigate “exotic materials”.
The only sport involving animals I can ever enjoy: when animals run onto the field and the caller seamlessly relays the action. Here, a cat interrupts an American football match, following in the pawsteps of a rabbit two years ago. Not to be outdone, of course, a dog takes to a soccer pitch (bonus points for post-match interview) Then there’s the roo that stopped a soccer game. I’ve searched hard for footage of when someone in the old Sheridan Stand at the SCG released a chicken onto the field during a semi-final involving the Eastern Suburbs Roosters in the early ’80s without luck.