Squiz Today / 15 March 2024

Squiz Today – 15 March 2024

Squiz Today Podcast

Today’s listen time: 11 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“Get your backside trackside.”

Is the once-in-a-decade call to Darwin residents to expose their rear ends to The Ghan train as it rolls into town. If you’re keen to see the “Noonamah Moonies” drop their dacks, you’ll have to wait until 2034 for the next full moon…

Putin on a Show

The Squiz

This weekend, 112.3 million people will be eligible to vote in Russia’s election, which is almost certain to deliver the re-election of President Vladimir Putin for another 6-year term. Despite allegations of vote rigging, experts say the poll is important to Putin because he’ll use the result to claim support for his leadership and the ongoing war on Ukraine. But not everyone is happy to tow the party line – a mass protest at polling stations across the country is planned for noon on Sunday. As for the result – controversial online voting is in place for the first time, so it shouldn’t take long for it to come in.

Why is Putin a sure thing?

Putin has been in power since 1999, when he first became PM, before becoming president one year later. Since then, the 71yo has swapped back and forth between the 2 jobs, changing the constitution along the way to ensure he’s the most powerful person in the country. Russia used to have rules preventing the country’s leader from serving more than 2 terms, but Putin eradicated those and he could remain in the top job until at least 2036, when he would be 83yo. This time around, no serious opposition remains after the death of Alexei Navalny last month, with others discouraged by the ongoing threat of violence

If it’s a done deal, why does it matter?

This is Russia’s first election since the invasion of Ukraine began in 2022, which, along with widespread sanctions placed on Russia and some of its wealthiest citizens in response to the war – including by Oz – has hurt the country’s economy… It’s also worth noting that voting will take place in what Russia calls its new territories – aka parts of Ukraine now controlled by Russian forces – overseen by armed men. Whatever happens, experts say the election is little more than “political theatre”… In the 2018 presidential elections, Putin got 76.7% of the vote with 67.5% of eligible voters turning out. Experts say Team Putin wants both these records to be beaten – that makes it easier to claim a mandate and explain his actions to the nation and the world.

If you’re keen to hear more about Putin’s grip on power and this weekend’s election, check out the latest Squiz Shortcut.

World News

Squiz the Rest

Israel targets senior Hamas figures

Israel’s focus since the 7 October Hamas attacks has been on eliminating the terror group and yesterday brought them one step closer to that goal. Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said the “significant” Hamas leader Hadi Mustafa was killed in a strike in southern Lebanon – he was accused of attacks on international Israeli and Jewish targets. In a second “precise strike” in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, the IDF says another Hamas commander – Mohammed Abu Hasna – was one of 5 people killed. A staff member for the United Nations’ Palestinian aid agency UNRWA was killed in the same strike when it hit a food distribution centre in Rafah. UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini says similar Israeli strikes hitting Gazan aid facilities have “become commonplace in blatant disregard to international humanitarian law.” The IDF says it plans to move displaced Gazans to “humanitarian islands” with aid and shelter before launching a full-scale invasion of Rafah. 

World News

TikTok on a political ultimatum

The US House of Representatives has given ByteDance, the Chinese owners of social media giant TikTok, an ultimatum: sell up or face a national ban. The bill was passed with bipartisan support – with 352 Congress members in favour and 65 against. It gives ByteDance 165 days to sell before it’s banned – but to be real for a sec, there are plenty of hurdles before that… US lawmakers have had long-running user data/security concerns about the Beijing-based app – their main one being the Chinese Government’s potential influence over the company. TikTok’s boss Shou Zi Chew says the company is dedicated to staying “free from outside manipulation” and will look at “exercising legal rights” to continue operating in America. And if you’re wondering what it means for Oz, PM Anthony Albanese says not much, but the Coalition has urged him to follow America’s lead. 

World News

Chalmers budget forecast

Looking to get ahead on pulling together your 2024 Budget Bingo cards to share with your nearest and dearest? Treasurer Jim Chalmers gave his preview of the May Federal Budget yesterday, and the main phrase was “no big cash splashes”… Chalmers says there won’t be any big surprises because the government’s big policy priorities have been announced – things like the revamped Stage 3 tax cuts, the new paid parental leave/super policy and funding for remote housing. But he says Aussies can still expect “additional cost-of-living help in the Budget – but it won’t be anywhere near the magnitude of the tax cuts”. That’s likely because Treasury expects a drop in Australian iron ore prices and a weaker labour market to hit the economy… Today, Chalmers will gear up for a battle with the states over divvying up GST funds. NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey will demand a shake-up (paywall) of the federal policy, arguing richer states like NSW and WA shouldn’t have to prop up poorer ones.

AusPol Business & Finance

One Kerr-azy night

New details about what happened on the night that Matildas captain Sam Kerr got into hot water with British police have come to light, including that she spent time in a jail cell… The 30yo has pleaded not guilty to a charge of racial harassment of a police officer following the incident on 30 January last year when she allegedly threw up in a taxi before getting into a row over the fare that led to police being called. Reports say Kerr’s legal team will apply to have the case thrown out when it continues on 26 April on the grounds of abuse of process based on the 12-month delay before she was charged, saying it was because prosecutors couldn’t decide what offence to charge her with. They also want police CCTV/body cam footage of the incident to be handed over. 

In happier news for footy fans… Adelaide United midfielder and top-flight men’s soccer’s first openly gay player Josh Cavallo has got down on one knee on the pitch to propose to his partner Leighton Morrell. The 24yo thanked his A-League club for providing “a safe space in football”. Aww…

Australian News Sport

No more fun and games

If you’re someone who looks forward to weekend mornings with a game of Nerdle, Dordle, Squirdle or Quordle (promise we didn’t make those up), be warned… The New York Times has lawyered up and sent a copyright infringement notice to the bevy of apps that sound – and look – suspiciously like its own game, Wordle. Devotees know the game exploded in popularity in 2021 – prompting plenty of Rubik’s cube-looking Tweets that confused non-users. It was subsequently purchased by the NYT, with full access given only to the US paper’s subscribers. Cue another explosion of replica games… But the NYT says no more – it’s sent takedown notices to “hundreds of websites popping up with knock-offs”. How Absurdle…

Entertainment World News

Friday Lites – 3 things we liked this week

We’ve mentioned the UK post office scandal before – it’s a wild story. This excellent podcast – The Great Post Office Trial – drills into the saga with many of those falsely accused, so if true crime’s your thing, we reckon this will be right up your alley.

Got 15 things on the go at once? This article unpicks why we try so hard to multitask and how we can stop ourselves overdoing it to focus on “one thing at a time”. And yes, that is our mother’s voice in our head with the advice she imparted a long time ago…

OMG it’s the middle of March and it’s still so hot for much of Oz. We’re starting almost every conversation with “How hot is it?” and boring ourselves to tears…. What is good on a warm night is a BBQ, and this halloumi salad goes well with your grilled meat/fish. Dial up the rocket and dressing to make it stretch further. 

Friday Lites

Squiz the Day

9.00am (AEDT) 2nd Climate Change Impact Inquiry hearing – Sydney 

9.30am (AEDT) Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, final hearings – Sydney

6.00pm (AEDT) Australia Institute Climate Talks – Sydney

ABS Data Release – Overseas Arrivals and Departures, January

Russian Election (until 17 March)

World’s Greatest Shave begins (on until 19 March) 

World Speech Day 

International Day Against Police Brutality

International Day to Combat Islamophobia 

Birthdays for actor Eva Longoria (1975) and musician will.i.am (1975)

Anniversary of:

  • the death of Julius Caesar (44BC)
  • the first Test cricket match – Australia v England at the MCG in Melbourne (1877)
  • the Christchurch mosque shootings that saw 51 killed (2019)
  • Sam Kerr being named the FA Women’s Super League Player of the Year for the 2nd time in a row (2023)
Squiz the Day

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