7 Feb 2020

What we're reading this week — February 7

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It’s been a week of high jinks in US politics. Over three successive days the Democratic caucuses in Iowa went into meltdown, Donald Trump used his State of the Union address to remind us all of his showmanship, all before escaping relatively unscathed from his impeachment trial.

Across the Atlantic, British PM Boris Johnson has been accused of picking fights with the public broadcaster and journalists.

Elsewhere, there are questions about whether Wuhan could have done a better job containing the coronavirus, Iran-backed hackers pose as a journalist to unleash an email scam, and massive spiders.

These are some of the stories that caught our attention this week.


This should be Pete Buttigieg’s moment, But the counting disaster may rob him of his victory

ABC News / David Lipson

The first paragraph of Lipson’s analysis perfectly summed up the maelstrom in Iowa: “If you want to look utterly incompetent, infuriate your base, inflame tensions amongst your leading candidates and hand your real opponent a massive win, there’s an app for that.”


Assured of acquittal, Trump makes case for a second term

The New York Times / Peter Baker

Trump’s 78-minute State of the Union speech mixed celebrations of the US economy with surreal, reality TV inspired moments, and a strange tribute to conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh.


Nancy Pelosi tears up State of the Union speech after address: ‘it was the courteous thing to do considering the alternatives’

Newsweek / Matt Keeley

The president’s SOTU speech wasn’t well received by Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped up her copy of the speech. At the beginning of the address, the President had snubbed the Speaker’s attempt to shake hands.


Trump acquitted: What’s next for the president, Democrats

Al Jazeera / William Roberts

The Republican-led Senate voted, unsurprisingly, to acquit Donald Trump. What's next for the presidents and his opponents?


Political journalists boycott No 10 briefing after reporter ban

The Guardian / Rowena Mason and Andrew Sparrow

UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s communications adviser tried to exclude reporters from certain publications from an official government briefing. The remaining reporters staged a walk out in solidarity with their colleagues.


Boris Johnson steps up assaults on BBC review into licence fee decriminalisation

The Independent / Lizzy Buchan

Boris Johnson’s launch of a new consultation on whether the failure to pay the BBC licence fee should be a criminal offence comes amid rising tensions between journalists and the PM.


In depth: How Wuhan lost the fight to contain the coronavirus

Caixin / Gao Yu, Xiao Hui, Ma Danmeng, Cui Xiankang and Han Wei

“China is fighting a war against the virus, which has cost the economy heavily and disrupted the lives of ordinary people, especially those in Wuhan. As the country gradually recovers from the shock and fear inspired by the virus, many are questioning why the virus crisis spread so quickly in Wuhan and whether there was any chance of a better outcome.”


The disease border on the Thai-Myanmar border

Frontier Myanmar / Luke Siegel

“Debilitating mosquito-borne diseases pose an increasing threat to migrant workers and refugees just across the border in Thailand, where clinics running on dwindling foreign aid struggle to meet needs.”


Iran-linked hackers pose as journalists in email scam

Reuters / Raphael Satter, Christopher Bing

“When Iranian-born German academic Erfan Kasraie received an email from The Wall Street Journal requesting an interview, he sensed something was amiss.”


Apocalypse now as Australia burns

AFP / Glenda Kwek

Indian-based Australian journalist Glenda Kwek blogs her experience returning home in the middle of the bushfire crisis.


The Knewz reviews the Knewz

Columbia Journalism Review / Lauren Harris

Last week, we shared the Knewz — sorry news — that News Corp had launched a new news aggregation site, called ‘Knewz’. The CJR reviewed the site, with the help of ‘The Knewz’, a polka band.


‘Biggest funnel-web we’ve ever seen’ handed in to Australian Reptile Park

ABC News

Dubbed Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in honour of the mammoth wrestled-turned-actor, the funnel-web spider towers above others of the same species. Found in Newcastle, the spider will be milked of venom to produce the lifesaving anti-venom.