Squiz Today / 11 January 2024

Squiz Today – 11 January 2024

Squiz Today Podcast

Today’s listen time: 8.30 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“What a fine young man!”

Said one internet commenter about France’s newly-appointed PM. At 34yo, he’s the youngest in history and also the first openly gay French PM. And as far as French cuisine goes, he is quite the dish…

Albanese calls for a price check

The Squiz  

The Albanese Government has set its sights on supermarket prices as the new year kicks into gear, with former Labor Consumer Affairs Minister/economist Craig Emerson to lead a review into the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct. The probe was announced at the start of October, but PM Anthony Albanese revealed Emerson’s appointment publicly yesterday – something he copped some flack from the Coalition over… The look into the voluntary/industry-led regulatory scheme will check that it’s working “to make sure Australian customers get the best possible deal” at the checkout. “Because we know that when we have seen a reduction in the cost to supermarkets, that hasn’t been passed on in an appropriate way to consumers. And we want to make sure that happens,” Albanese said yesterday. 

‘Cos you hear quite a bit about what the supermarkets pay farmers… 

Yeah – and you’re probably hearing the same things we are about zucchinis… Another example comes from a fruit producer who says he gets $1.80/kg for his produce, but it retails for $5. “Where is that gap going? Who is making the difference? The supermarkets,” he says. His view is shared by Queensland Premier Steven Miles, who wrote to the bosses of Coles, Woolworths, IGA and Aldi last week about his “growing concern” over the disparity between prices at the farm gate and the checkout. But the retailers say they pay market prices for produce, and the retail price includes “processing, transport, labour, packaging and other costs”. These issues will be addressed in Emerson’s review and a Senate Inquiry that will kick into gear in the coming weeks. 

So cost of living concerns are alive and well in 2024?

They sure are – but there was some good news yesterday… Yesterday, the Bureau of Stats said inflation dropped to 4.3% in the 12 months leading up to November. It’s the lowest inflation in nearly 2 years, and it’s fallen by more than economists predicted. Cue speculation that the Reserve Bank might drop interest rates sooner than the analysts thought, even though Treasurer Jim Chalmers yesterday said the fight to beat high inflation is “far from over”. Still, it’s better than what Argentinians are facing – an inflation rate of 160%, leaving locals to ask their cowboy saint Gauchito Gil for help… 


Squiz the Rest

Rain rain go away

2024’s weather can get in the bin with Far North Queensland staring down another cyclone. Meteorologists reckon the risk of it making landfall is about 15% – but even without it, a monsoon trough is set to dump heavy rain on already sodden parts of the state across the weekend and into next week. Parts of the major highway between Cairns and Port Douglas are still cut by the damage caused by landslides and extensive damage to the Kuranda railway. Southeast Queenslanders are also still cleaning up after bruising storms and flooding during Christmas. The Hinze Dam on the Gold Coast is now at 99.8% capacity, requiring the spill gates to be opened after that not-so-festive surprise from Mother Nature…


I’ll just WFH…

A story that’s been getting weirder all week relates to US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and his hospitalisation without President Joe Biden having the faintest. Austin was admitted on 1 January – something officials didn’t find out for 3 days. And yesterday, it was confirmed that Austin received a prostate cancer diagnosis in December. Suffice it to say, a review has been ordered because US Cabinet members can’t be incapacitated without handing off their responsibilities – particularly in the super key role of Defence. Adding to yesterday’s political shenanigans, former President Donald Trump was in court arguing immunity from criminal prosecution over his alleged role in the 6 January riots on the Capitol. He reckons you can basically do what you like as the Prez. Let’s just say the 3 judges were sceptical about that…

World News

Chaos in Ecuador

Armed gunmen stormed onto the set of a live TV broadcast in the South American country, taking the hosts and crew hostage as viewers at home watched on. Ecuador is now in a state of emergency, with President Daniel Noboa declaring a curfew from 11pm-5am for the next 60 days as authorities try to handle the escalating violence. The country has been rocked by a series of dramatic incidents, including police being kidnapped since a prominent gang leader escaped from prison on Monday. Ecuador has been relatively stable in a part of the world not known for it, but in recent years, political leaders have struggled to control criminal groups running the lucrative drug trade. The 35yo Noboa has been the nation’s leader since late November – Fernando Villavicencio, a candidate he ran against, was assassinated during the campaign after speaking out against gangs and corruption. 

World News

Love all for Rodionova

Australia’s top-ranked female tennis player Arina Rodionova has taken a swipe at the sport’s bosses after missing out on automatic entry into the Australian Open. Tennis Australia gave ‘wildcard‘ entries to lower-ranked Aussies, including Daria Saville (#195) and Taylah Preston (#203), leaving Rodionova (#105) to attempt (and fail) to get entry via the qualifying rounds. Australia’s men’s former world #33 John Millman reckons the process is “a bit of a shambles” and she shouldn’t have been overlooked. The heat’s also on tournament organisers over the balls being used in the Open – Aussie player Thanasi Kokkinakis reckons they’re “lemons” that go soft too quickly, while big guns Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios have pushed for a broader review of the balls being used in all the grand slams. 


Here comes the… massive wedding cake

Move over, tiered creations – 2024 is about jazzed-up sheet cakes. The new trend of super-sized cakes at weddings and events is a swing of the pendulum from pandemic-era micro-gatherings and individually wrapped treats. Fancy sheet cakes (which, for the uninitiated, are large one-layer cakes with icing…) have become a big thing in the US where pastry chefs are creating masterpieces well over a metre long. And it’s not just about size – it’s also about the social media appeal. “This idea of a messier, more communal dessert will probably be something people continue to do”, says brand whiz Rachel Karten. But don’t be fooled – these cakes are not a piece of cake to make. “I can confirm it is not easier than doing a tiered cake,” said cake decorator Kassie Mendieta. So, if you’re getting hitched in 2024 and want to be on trend, remember you heard it here first (and save us a slice…).

Quirky News

Apropos of Nothing

Luxury brands in the UK are nervous about losing their royal seal of approval. Hundreds of companies like Barbour and Burberry supply the royals – and many are worried King Charles might enforce higher sustainability standards before granting a warrant.

All India’s PM Narendra Modi was doing was having a beach holiday in Lakshadweep, a southern Indian island chain off the coast of Kerala. But officials from the Maldives were less than pleased because his praise of the region’s beauty didn’t reference their nearby offering. One junior minister called him a “clown”, earning the official a sharp rebuke… 

Speaking of people who have had problematic beach holidays, former PM Scott Morrison is launching his new book into the lucrative US Christian market. To smooth the way, Plans For Your Good – A Prime Minister’s Testimony of God’s Faithfulness has a foreword written by former US Vice President Mike Pence.

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

8.30am (AEDT) – The Elvis Express departs Sydney’s Central Station for Parkes NSW for the annual Elvis Festival

1:00pm (AEDT) – CNN hosts the 5th Republican presidential candidate debate between Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley – Des Moines, Iowa

1.00pm (AEDT) – Former President Donald Trump joins Fox News for a televised town hall event – Des Moines, Iowa

ABS Data Release – International Trade in Goods, November

International Parity at Work Day

International Thank You Day

Birthdays for horse fan Daryl Braithwaite (1949) and singer/swimmer Cody Simpson (1997)

Anniversary of:

  • the US Surgeon General Dr Luther Terry publishing a landmark report saying smoking caused lung cancer (1964)
  • the death of New Zealand mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary (2008)
  • author JK Rowling completing the final Harry Potter book in an Edinburgh hotel room (2007)
Squiz the Day

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