Facebook Lawsuit

So Facebook is the big story this week. Why? Well, hold on to your spectacles and testicles kiddos. Get ready for a shock.

Turns out they’re not really that awesome when it comes to protecting their user data.

I know, right? Big surprise.

It all started in the UK, with a British parliamentary inquiry into a dodgy connection between an analytics company – Cambridge Analytica – and Facebook. Cambridge Analytica worked with Donald Trump’s election campaign. Apparently, more than 50 million Facebook profiles were harvested and used to build a data system to influence voters in the 2016 presidential race.

Whistleblowers from Cambridge Analytica have come forward, triggering outrage across the globe, and a whole lumpy legal mess. We’ll do a deep dive into the story – and how Australia is (or isn’t) involved on Tuesday.


69 homes were destroyed in bushfires across New South Wales at the start of the week. The fire moved from Tarraganda to Tathra, causing hundreds of citizens to evacuate. Luckily, no one was killed or seriously injured. Climate change is reportedly to blame, with fire crews concerned about the growing fire season, which is now apparently stretching from October to March.

Putin’s Re-election

Shock! Gasp! Vladimir Putin has been re-elected President of Russia. The result is expected given the weakness of Putin’s opposition. As comedian Conan O’Brien put it: “The final tally was 76% for Putin, 24% shot this morning.” US President Donald Trump called to congratulate Putin on the win, neglecting to bring up Russia’s recent behaviour in assassinating former spies on UK soil or meddling in foreign elections. Australia has stood behind the United Kingdom in damning Russia’s recent behaviour.

Chinese National Congress

The annual ‘National People’s Congress’ ended his week in Beijing. It’s a meeting about China’s legislature, and is usually a ‘sleepy, stolid affair’ (says the New York Times). But this time round, President Xi Jinping extended the term limits of the Chinese presidency indefinitely. We did a deep dive into Chinese politics and what it means for Australia here.

ASEAN Summit

The ASEAN summit closed up in Sydney this week – a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders. Many eyes were on Aung San Suu Kyi – the leader of Myanmar, who has come under fire from humanitarian organisations for her country’s violent persecution of the Rohingya people last year (deep dive here). Malcolm Turnbull apparently raised the issue with her in private talks. Amnesty International have criticised Turnbull’s approach as too soft. Ms Suu Kyi suddenly pulled out of a keynote speech she was expected to deliver due to “not feeling well” before flying home.

Liberals Win South Australia, Batman Bad News for Greens

The Liberals won in South Australia last weekend, toppling a long Labor rule. But the real story is Nick Xenophon’s SA Best party, which was supposed to cause a major upset, but has instead been described as a “monumental flop”. Regardless, you can read about South Australia’s Liberals election promises on ABC, right here.

In the same weekend, a by-election was held in the seat of Batman, Victoria. It was a tight race between Labor and the Greens. If Labor lost the seat, it would’ve been a major pain in the neck for Bill Shorten in the House of Representatives. For a while, it looked like the Greens might take it. In the end, Labor won it comfortably after leaks of in-fighting amongst the Greens muddied the waters. It’s ruffled all sorts of feathers for the Greens, with some calling for the resignation of the federal leader, Richard Di Natale.

Dutton and Refugee Shame – Again

Last week we reported on Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s welcoming of white South African farmers to Australian shores. He’s been fighting off criticism all week for his perceived two-faced immigration policy.

In a less reported story this week, his Department has come under fire yet again. The Department of Home Affairs fought to keep a ten-year-old refugee boy on Nauru after he had attempted suicide twice, saying there was enough medical resources on the island to take of his needs. A federal court overturned that decision this week. The Department of Home Affairs tried to get the hearing delayed another week. The Judge in charge, Justice Nye Perram, disagreed: “A delay … cannot be justified, there is a significant risk the boy would not be alive by that hearing, and I am not prepared to run that risk.” The boy is now receiving treatment in Australia. He is accompanied by his mother.

Marine Reserve shake-up

The Turnbull government is stripping back the highest-level of protections for sensitive marine areas to help support fishing and tourism. Labor wants to block the proposal, calling it “the largest removal of areas from conservation in history”. Overall, 80% of Australia’s marine park waters would be open to commercial fishing, up from 63%. ‘Green Zone’ protection is the highest, and means mining and fishing are banned. ‘Yellow zone’ protection means no one can fiddle with the seabed (so mining’s out), but fishing is welcome. Conservationists say that doesn’t do enough to protect biodiversity. The government wants to make a big chunk of the sea right near the Barrier Reef yellow zone. They also want to upgrade some other zones around the country to green. The World Wildlife Fund and the Australian Marine Conservation Society says the plan stinks. Seafood Industry Australia have given it the thumbs up. It’ll be a fight in Parliament in the coming months.

Northern White Rhino

The last male northern white rhino has died in Kenya. His name was Sudan and he was 45 years old. Sudan’s daughter Najin, and his granddaughter Fatu are the only two white rhino’s left alive. In 1960, there were around 2,000 white rhinos. War, loss of habitat and poaching has decimated their population. Science is working hard to develop techniques to bring extinct or severely endangered species back to life. IVF will be attempted on both Najin and Fatu in the coming months.

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And thanks, as always to Jennifer McDonald, who proofs these posts and makes sure I’m making some kind of sense. You can read Jen’s blog here.

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