10 Jan 2020

What we're reading this week — January 10, 2020

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Heightened tensions between the US and Iran. Did an Iranian missile bring down a Ukrainian jet? Facebook and Twitter make changes that could affect disinformation activities online. The quest for Australia's first Indigenous astronaut.

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

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Iran and the US: how did it come to this and what’s next?

Sydney Morning Herald / Nick O’Malley and Michael Bachelard

This explainer provides a good summary of the recent history of the US-Iran relationship.

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Qassem Soleimani haunted the Arab world

The Atlantic / Kim Ghattas

“Soleimani was so central to almost every regional event in the past two decades that even people who hate him can’t believe he could die.” A great piece of analysis from a journalist who is actually from the region.

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Video apparently showing flight PS752 missile strike geolocated to Iranian suburb

Bellingcat

The Bellingcat Investigative Team provide a step-by-step explanation of how they geolocated a video, obtained by The New York Times, to a suburb near Tehran. The video appear to show the moment a Ukrainian jet was hit by a missile.

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From fire evacuation rooms, Diary of a Wombat author pens her message to Australia

The Age / Jackie French

“I have seen wombats share their holes with snakes, quolls, possums and a nervous swamp wallaby.” Celebrated children’s author Jackie French shares her personal experiences of the bushfires on the NSW South Coast.

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Reigniting a land of extinction

The Walkley Magazine / Jess Cockerill

Indigenous Tasmanians are working to re-establish cultural fire practices after catastrophic fires in 2019. This reporting was funded by the Walkley Public Fund and JNI.

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On the eve of Manhattan sex assault trial, Harvey Weinstein charged with 2013 attacks on women in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Times / Richard Winton and James Queally

Harvey Weinstein is facing new charges, brought by two women who allege he attacked them in hotels in LA and Beverley Hills in 2013.

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A decade of disruption

The Australian

Tracking some of the biggest changes in technology, society and culture — The Australian’s staff writers take a look back on the 2010s and how the world has changed.

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Facebook bans deepfakes, but new policy may not cover controversial Pelosi video

Washington Post / Tony Romm, Drew Harwell and Isaac Stanley-Becker

Facebook’s vice president for global policy management announced this week that the company would remove misleading manipulated media — usually called “deepfakes” — from its sites. But, as The Post points out, lesser forms of manipulation would not be banned.

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Twitter’s new reply blockers could let Trump hide critics

TechCrunch / Josh Constine

Twitter’s upcoming Conversation Participants tool will allow users to choose who will be able to reply to their Tweets — everyone, only followers, only mentioned users, or no one. There are concerns that denying users the ability to add to conversations could create unfiltered and unchecked echo chambers.

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China’s Communist Party is at a fatal age for one-party regimes. How much longer can it survive?

ABC News / Christina Zhou

The Soviet Union fell after 74 years. Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party held power for 71. Communist China recently celebrated its 70-year milestone. Can it continue to be sustainable?

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China crowns Xi with special title, citing rare crisis

Nikkei Asian Review / Katsuji Nakazawa

“The highlight of the year-end democratic life meeting was the use of the ultimate title, “the people’s leader.” It marked the first step towards deifying Xi. Throughout party history, only Mao has been referred to as “the people’s leader.”

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Coincidence that fake news law applied to politicians, Singapore minister says

Reuters / John Geddie

The Singapore governments says it’s a ‘coincidence’ that the first few people to fall foul of its controversial fake news laws have been political opponents.

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‘A new frontier’: The quest for Australia’s first Aboriginal astronaut

Sydney Morning Herald / Ella Archibald-Binge and Rhett Wyman

UTS student Giovanni D’Urso, 27, recently completed a stint at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in California. It’s part of an ambition program to recruit Indigenous students to work in the space industry. This reporting was supported by JNI.

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The cyber pirates of the Caribbean

ABC News / Rebecca Trigger

An eye-opening investigation into the investment scams that cost Australians at least $86 million in 2018.

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Missed last week's edition? Catch up here.