Financial Times – Jamie Smyth, Hannah Murphy and Alex Barker / Facebook ban on news in Australia provokes fierce backlash
- Facebook’s decision to block the sharing of news in Australia restricted access to critical public information on government health and emergency service sites on Thursday, provoking a backlash from the government and public.
- The Facebook pages of Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland Department of Health and Hobart Women’s Shelter were among dozens hit by a ban after Canberra’ tried to force the social media company and Google to pay news publishers for content.
- Josh Frydenberg, Australia’s treasurer, said Facebook gave no warning of its intentions and added that the actions were wrong, unnecessary and heavy-handed. “But what today’s events do confirm for all Australians is the immense market power of these media digital giants,” he said.
- Facebook’s ban was imposed hours after a separate decision by Google to strike a global deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, defusing a long-running dispute between the media group and the search company.
- The Guardian – Josh Taylor / Facebook’s botched Australia news ban hits health departments, charities and its own pages
The Economist / The freeze in Texas exposes America’s infrastructural failings
- After a winter storm pummelled the Lone Star State with record snowfall and the lowest temperatures in more than 30 years, millions were left without electricity and heat.
- On February 16th 4.5m Texan households were cut off from power, as providers were overloaded with demand and tried to shuffle access to electricity so the whole grid did not go down.
- More than 20 people have died in motor accidents, from fires lit for warmth and from carbon-monoxide poisoning from using cars for heat. The storm has also halted deliveries of covid-19 vaccines and may prevent around 1m vaccinations from happening this week.
- Of America’s 48 contiguous states, Texas is the only one with its own stand-alone electricity grid—the Texas Interconnection. This means that when power generators fail, the state cannot import electricity from outside its borders.
- The Washington Post – Arelis R. Hernández, Ken Hoffman, Griff White and Annie Gowen / As millions remain without power amid more snow and ice, blame and questions mount
Politico – Jillian Deutsch and David M. Herszenhorn / Von der Leyen asks Russia why it’s selling Sputnik abroad before vaccinating citizens
- Russia should explain why it’s offering to sell millions of doses of its coronavirus vaccine to other countries while lagging behind the vaccination of its own citizens, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday.
- Her comments come as more countries in Central and Eastern Europe are warming up to the Sputnik V vaccine, even though it has yet to get EU regulatory approval and questions are growing about the transparency of its clinical trial data.
- Von der Leyen noted that Russia would need to permit inspections of its manufacturing sites and submit all of their data for scrutiny as part of the regulatory approval process.
- “Overall I must say we still wonder why Russia is offering theoretically millions and millions of doses while not sufficiently progressing in vaccinating their own people,” she remarked. “This is also a question that I think should be answered.”
- EUObserver – Nikolaj Nielsen and Eszter Zalan / EU Commission casts doubt on Russian Sputnik vaccine
Bloomberg – Jana Randow and Carolynn Look / ECB converges on green policy as activists’ patience wears thin
- European Central Bank officials are finally building a consensus about how they might start delivering on President Christine Lagarde’s ambition to combat climate change.
- After more than a year of debate about how to reconcile her push with the institution’s price-stability mandate, policy makers are closer to finding common ground.
- Rather than the controversial option of actively choosing to buy greener bonds, they’re likely to take account of the financial risks of carbon-intensive industries in their purchase programs.
- A shift in the ECB’s view on “brown” securities could have consequences for the collateral banks can use to obtain money from the institution, and its bond-purchase programs too.
- Euractiv – Esther Snippe and Kira Taylor / Concerns raised over green spending as EU moves forward with recovery plan
- Project Syndicate – Kemal Dervis and Sebastián Strauss / The decarbonization paradox
- Project Syndicate – Connie Hedegaard and Bill Gates / No time to waste