Squiz Today / 28 August 2023

Squiz Today – Monday, 28 August

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Squiz Today Podcast

Perfect for multitasking mornings.

Today’s listen time: 9.30 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“Have we reached the mountaintop? Not by a long shot.”

Said Alphonso David from the Global Black Economic Forum on the eve of today’s 60th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington and his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Also over the weekend: the racially motivated fatal shooting of 3 black people in Florida highlighting how steep that mountain is…

Putin demand for loyalty


Russian investigators overnight said genetic testing confirmed that Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin was on board the plane that crashed north of Moscow. A Russian government spokesperson also said the suggestion that the crash was ordered by President Vladimir Putin was an “absolute lie”. The other big move over the weekend was Putin’s order to Wagner’s mercenary fighters to sign an oath of allegiance. The pledge includes a promise to strictly follow the orders of Russia’s military commanders/senior leaders and a commitment to “courageously defend” the nation’s independence and constitution. A move to make Wagner’s 25,000+ fighters – mainly made up of former prisoners – sign Russian Army contracts by 1 July was one of the reasons behind the June mutiny led by Prighozin. Since then, there have been questions about whether Wagner fighters – now based in Belarus, Syria and Africa – will return to the battlefields of Ukraine. 


Not according to analysts, at least in the short term – and they say Wagner’s future further afield isn’t certain either… The group has become an integral arm of Russian foreign policy by propping up governments in Syria and Africa in exchange for valuable mining rights. One expert said those arrangements are set to continue “perhaps no longer under the name of Wagner, but with a new head loyal to the Kremlin.” As for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while mercenary troops may not return anytime soon, quite a bit has been said since last week about Prigozhin’s impact on the war. Specifically, Wagner’s role in the battle for Bakhmut in Ukraine’s east – one of the bloodiest of the war – which drained Kyiv of resources ahead of the spring/summer counteroffensive. About 20,000 Wagner troops died in that effort, but it gave Russia time to regroup and made it hard for Ukraine to build momentum


Even before the genetic confirmation, the official American/British view was that Prigozhin “likely” died last week, and unnamed officials say a bomb on board his private jet was the probable cause of the crash. As for what the chapter means for Putin, Western officials say it makes him “short-term stronger, long-term weaker.” That’s because, sure, he’s forcing his top officials to “walk the line”, but they say his extreme measures are eroding his standing with Russia’s elite and the general public. Still, there are nations happy to align with Russia… Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Argentina, the UAE and Ethiopia will join BRICS to add more voices to the group that serves as a counterweight to the US and its allies. Last week’s meeting of leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa agreed to the group’s expansion. Analyst Margaret Myers said it’s “more symbolic than anything” as a show of support for “a recalibration of the global order.”

World News

Squiz the Rest

Chopper crash kills 3 marines

News of the military aircraft crash off the coast of the Northern Territory came through mid-yesterday, and by early evening the death toll was revealed. Three US Marines were killed when their tilt-rotor MV-22B Osprey came down on Melville Island, north of Darwin. In total, 23 US military personnel were onboard the aircraft, and 5 are in serious condition at Royal Darwin Hospital. They were participating in Exercise Predators Run as part of a 500-strong American contingency along with troops from Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Timor-Leste. A Defence Force spokesperson said no Australian personnel were involved. American officials said recovery efforts are ongoing, and an investigation is underway. It’s been a month since 4 Aussie personnel were killed in a Taipan helicopter crash off the Whitsundays in Queensland. They were taking part in the huge Talisman Sabre exercises.

Australian News World News

Trouble in Queensland

Queensland’s Deputy Premier Stephen Miles has dismissed speculation that Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk’s on the way out as “rumours and gossip”. Labor government insiders are said to be worried that Palaszczuk could lead the state government to defeat at an election to be held in October next year after a recent poll showed the Liberal National Party gaining the lead. Last week, Palasczuk was also under pressure over her policy to indefinitely detain young offenders in police watchhouses, overriding the state’s human rights laws. Youth crime is a hot-button issue in Queensland, with the government accused of losing control of law and order. However, the new laws have received pushback, including from within the government. Depending on your view, that makes it a great/terrible time for Palaszczuk to take 2 weeks of leave… 

AusPol Australian News

Forced kiss, forced out

No bueno, FIFA has said of the Spanish football federation’s president, Luis Rubiales… Trouble over his planting of a kiss on the lips of Jennifer Hermoso following Spain’s Women’s World Cup win last Sunday has not been resolved… Hermoso says it was a “sexist, out of place act”. She’s been backed up by Spain’s acting PM Pedro Sánchez, clubs, players, and 11 coaching staff from the World Cup team, who quit over the incident. But Rubiales has dug in, calling the kiss “euphoric and consensual” – and the organisation Rubiales runs said last week they could take legal action “in defence of the president’s honour”. Now FIFA – the body that governs soccer for the whole world – has taken a side: they’ve suspended Rubiales for 90 days, contingent on an investigation into the kiss. The Spanish federation also launched its own investigation over the weekend. Team coach Jorge Vilda – also a controversial figure – said “I deeply regret that the victory of Spanish women’s football has been harmed by the inappropriate behaviour”. 

Culture Sport

Yeehaw it’s the US Open

Spare a thought for the sleep schedules of the tennis-mad as the first round of the US Open begins at 1am Eastern Aussie time tomorrow morning. Australia has 14 singles players across the men’s (sans Nick Kyrgios) and women’s draws, with Alex de Minaur as our top-ranked fella (at 13th seed) and Ajla Tomljanovic, our great women’s hope (she got to the quarter-finals last year…), as she returns from injury. The tournament is a chance for reigning US Open champ Carlos Alcaraz to show his mettle again after beating Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon in July – although Italian youngster Jannik Sinner is also considered a chance on the hard court. It’s more of a toss-up for the women, with US 19yo star Coco Gauff on a hot streak, even if her parents are still encouraging her not to give up the books… The tournament will run for 2 weeks, with the singles finals on 10 and 11 September Aussie time.


No sign of Nessie

Colour us shocked… Last week we mentioned plans for an extensive search to locate the world’s most famous water-based monster, and sadly, exactly zero mythical creatures were discovered. It wasn’t for lack of trying: this time, volunteers used drones, thermal imaging, and sonar equipment across Loch Ness to track down Nessie for a full 2 days. Billed as the biggest investigation in 50 years, Alan McKenna from the Loch Ness Centre said the search was designed “to inspire a new generation of Loch Ness enthusiasts”. The Loch is the biggest body of water in the UK, and, as one local contends, the sightings over the years “can’t all be wrong”. At the very least, they’re great for tourism…


Apropos of nothing

Part of former US President Donald Trump’s processing in Georgia on Friday was the snapping of his first mugshot – what wasn’t expected was his return to X (aka Twitter), in what industry watchers say is a boon for Elon Musk’s platform. The image has helped the Republican candidate raise more than $11 million for his campaign, reports say… 

Also filed under ‘questionable promotions’, Austria’s giving away a year of free rail travel for attendees at a music festival – if they get the word ‘Kilmaticket’ tattooed on their body… The Austrian ‘Climate Ticket’ is designed to encourage a car-free lifestyle.

And speaking of music festivals, singing to kids is an important tool to communicate to young children because “it sticks out against the relative humdrum sound of adults talking to each other.” Our close mates do say we can yabber on a bit…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

ABS Data Release – Retail Trade, July

Company Results – Appen; Invocare; Fortescue Metals Group; Booktopia

Birthdays for Shania Twain (1965), Sonia Kruger (1965), Sheryl Sandberg (1969) and Jack Black (1969)

Anniversary of:
• pharmacists John Lea & William Perrins inventing Worcestershire sauce (1837)
• Reverend Martin Luther King delivering his ‘I have a dream’ speech (1963)

Squiz the Day

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