Shortcuts / 19 December 2023

The forgotten news stories of 2023

For our last Squiz Shortcut of 2023, we thought we’d round up the events that were huge for a moment and then faded away with questions still lingering. So this week, we’re looking back on those “what happened to…” stories from 2023…

Can we start with the Titan submersible? 
Yes… This was the small vessel that disappeared in the middle of June, midway through a mission taking 5 passengers down to see the wreck of the Titanic off the east coast of North America. After the Titan lost contact we had days of news coverage as rescuers estimated that the oxygen supply would run out after about 5 days.

That countdown was so grim… But they didn’t find the passengers, did they?
No. At the end of those 5 days, the rescuers found evidence that the Titan had imploded shortly after it first dived, and that the passengers had died instantly.

What’s happened since then?
The latest that we know is that debris from the craft has been recovered, including what they think is human remains. The latest from the US Coast Guard is that they’ve been reviewing the evidence and interviewing witnesses. That’s leading to an inquiry and public hearings sometime in the future.

War has been a big topic this year – but one that got a lot of attention at the start of the year before we didn’t see much more was the civil war in Sudan. What happened there?
Yeah, so the fighting broke out in April between 2 army generals over an internal struggle for power. That fighting is still going on, and the civilian toll has kept climbing all year. 

Where’s it at?
More than 9,000 Sudanese civilians have been killed, 5.6 million have been forced out of their homes, and 25 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. Also, at the start of this month, the United Nations pulled its staff from Sudan who were helping to transition the country to democracy.

You also spent a bit of time talking about Thailand’s politics this year. Where’s that landed?
Their national election caught our attention because there was a groundswell of support for change coming from the nation’s young people, and there was a sense that the old guard were up against it. 

Who’s the old guard?
The military – it’s held power in Thailand since a coup in 2014. The country also has laws that ban criticism of the monarchy.

Got you. And those institutions were under pressure, right?
Exactly – and that saw the Move Forward party win the most votes in the election. Their leader was Pita Limjaroenrat, a young Harvard graduate. He tried to become PM but was blocked twice by the military… And so Thailand didn’t actually get a new leader until August.

Who did they go with?
In the end, Srettha Thavisin from the second-placed Pheu Thai party was elected PM after some wheeling and dealing with the military. 

Moving on again, there were a lot of big earthquakes this year…
And by far the biggest was the one across Turkey and Syria in February, which killed over 59,000 people and injured 121,000. Recovery and rebuilding are still going on there – and will be for years. We wish there were better things to say about that… 

OK. What about the people who made news this year? 
Well, one of the early surprise moments of 2023 was an announcement from across the ditch with Kiwi PM Jacinda Ardern quitting politics – she said “I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It’s that simple.”

What’s Ardern up to now?
Well, once you’ve made history as the youngest elected female leader in the world, some doors open up for you… She’s taken up some notable posts – for example, she was hand-picked by Prince William to be a trustee of his Earthshot Prize, which is an environmental award. And she’s also a fellow at Harvard.

While we’re on former leaders, what’s happened to Pakistan’s Imran Khan?
This was such a wild story. He’s the famous former cricketer who became a hugely popular politician, and PM from 2018 through to 2022. But since leaving office, he’s been on a legal rollercoaster, and in May, he was arrested by a crowd of paramilitary forces over allegations of corruption. But a few days later, the High Court declared that arrest to be illegal.

What’s happened since then?
Khan is facing dozens and dozens of legal cases against him, and in August, he was arrested again. Currently, he is on trial over charges of leaking state secrets. He’s been blaming all of these cases on a political plot from the military to keep him out of office (note: the military denies this).

From Pakistan to… Romania, where there has been another court case bubbling away…
You’re referring to Andrew Tate… He’s the British-American influencer who is proudly misogynist, and who was arrested at the very end of 2022 in Romania under suspicion of human trafficking and rape. He ended up spending 3 months in jail, before being released under house arrest in March.

How’s that case going?
Well, a trial hasn’t been scheduled yet, and it might not be for a while, given the breadth and complexity of the case. But in August, Tate was released from house arrest, although the judge said that he couldn’t leave Romania.

What about the people we first heard about this year?
One big story revolved around Clare Nowland, who was the 95yo great-grandmother living with dementia in an aged care home in Cooma, in country NSW, when she was tasered by a police officer. Nowland died, and the officer was charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, as well as some lesser charges.

So where’s that up to?
The accused police officer is Kristian White, and it was revealed that he said “nah bugger it” before tasering Nowland. In November, his charges were upgraded to manslaughter. Currently, White is out on bail, and that case returns to court in 2024.

Another name that was new to us in 2023 was Luis Rubiales… How’s he going?
Ah yes… He was the president of Spain’s Football Federation when the women’s team won the FIFA World Cup in Oz. Rubiales infamously celebrated by grabbing player Jennifer Hermoso and kissing her on the mouth without her consent.

Cue an enormous furore…
…made bigger by the fact that Rubiales refused to resign. Then his mum locked herself in a church and went on a hunger strike to protest what she called the “inhumane, bloodthirsty hunt” against her son.

That was a moment… How’s mum going?
She was admitted to hospital after a couple of weeks, so hopefully she’s on the mend… As for Rubiales, he finally resigned in September, and he has since received a 3-year ban from international soccer from FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee.

While we’re talking about the Women’s World Cup, how’s Sam Kerr’s calf? 
Great question… So just to refresh your memory, Kerr suffered a serious calf strain to her left leg just before the start of the tournament and sat out the Matildas’ first 3 games. And a couple of months ago, she revealed she suffered a second calf injury – this time to her right leg in the third-place play-off defeat against Sweden. But she has recovered from both, thank goodness.

As for other sporting heroes, let’s talk about Peter Bol…
He is the Aussie runner who placed fourth in the 800 metres at the Tokyo Olympics and then came in second at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. But he’s had a rough, rough year… In January, he was suspended from the sport on suspicion of doping. That suspicion was quickly clouded when the results couldn’t be verified…

What happened next?
Where that landed is that at the end of July, Sports Integrity Australia said that it was officially clearing Peter Bol of any suspicion of doping, and he was free to train and compete. He has since competed in the World Athletics Championships, and he’s got his eyes on the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Good for him… 

Finally, let’s check in on the box office…
Look, the top-grossing film was no surprise – that was Barbie, which is ending the year having taken about US$1.4 billion at the global box office. But the number 2 film is a bit of a sneaker… 

Oppenheimer, right? 
Wrong. The Super Mario Bros Movie was leading Barbie for most of the year and is coming in at a close second, with US$1.3 billion in ticket sales.

Long live Luigi…
Maybe that’s a film to get into over the holiday break. 

See you in 2024? 
We can’t wait…

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This year, we did a lot of Squizing and curating of the news to help you stay on top of things. We also recommended a lot of recipes to help you get into the kitchen and make something good… so here is the wrap of our favourite recipes of the year.

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