Squiz Today / 17 January 2024

Squiz Today – 17 January 2024

Squiz Today Podcast

Today’s listen time: 9.30 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“I’m delusional enough to think I could have won the tournament.”

Said former world #1 Naomi Osaka, who was frustrated by her round one Australian Open loss. It was her third match in 15 months, and 6 months since the birth of her first baby last year. Geez us women can be hard on ourselves… 

Nauru picks a new regional mate

The Squiz

Days after Taiwan elected new president William Lai, Nauru has moved to cut ties with the country. Leaders from the small Pacific Island nation of Nauru say it’s “in the best interests” of the nation to prioritise its relationship with China, which has moved to assert itself in the Pacific region in recent years. Before Saturday’s election, Taiwanese officials warned that China – which has labelled Lai a “dangerous separatist” – had been luring its allies away, and yesterday, Deputy Foreign Minister Tien Chung-kwang called the Nauru announcement “a blatant attack on democracy”.

I mean, Nauru’s not big… Is this important? 

Put it this way – most countries don’t have an official relationship with Taiwan, including Australia. Nauru was one of just 13 countries that had official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, so losing one is significant. But you’re right – this is more about what China’s up to… It sees Taiwan as part of its territory – that’s seen Chinese President Xi Jinping tell his officials to do more to win over the Taiwanese people and “promote the complete reunification of the motherland”. That’s seen China accused of using “money diplomacy” across the Pacific to sway support its way. In this case, reports say China offered Nauru around $150 million for development projects – and it’s seen Nauru declare Taiwan an “inalienable part of China’s territory”. 

Are alarm bells ringing with Australian officials?

Not according to Minister for the Pacific Pat Conroy. He says it was a “decision by the sovereign government of Nauru” and that our officials were notified ahead of time. Conroy also pointed to Australia’s “excellent relations” with Nauru and other Pacific Island nations – whether they recognise Taiwan or have deals in place with China. The Albanese Government is putting significant effort into firming up our relationships in the region (aka countering China’s moves…). That includes last year’s signing of the Tuvalu treaty, which will see Oz take in climate refugees forced from the tiny island nation. Reports say Australian officials are also considering ways they can provide more support to Nauru… But the US was a bit more bummed out by yesterday’s developments – the White House, which has vowed “to deepen and expand” its engagement with Taiwan, called Nauru’s decision “disappointing”.

World News

Squiz the Rest

Trump gets the election ball rolling

Despite facing 91 felony charges, former US President Donald Trump has come out on top in the Iowa caucuses, tightening his grip on the Republican presidential nomination. His victory margin of 51% of the vote looks set to beat the record set by Bob Dole in 1988… “THANK YOU IOWA, I LOVE YOU ALL!!!” he posted on his social media platform Truth Social.  Florida Governor Ron DeSantis came in second with 21% of the vote, with former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley third with 19% – results that were below both those candidates’ expectations. Dropping out of the race is political outsider/biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy who received about 7.5% of the vote – he said “there is no path for me to be the next president absent things that we don’t want to see happen in this country.” Quite… All eyes are on New Hampshire, where Republicans will pick their nominee in just over a week.

World News

Hamas blames Israel for hostage deaths

Hamas has released a video update allegedly showing the bodies of 2 Israeli hostages after warning Israel they might be killed if it did not stop its bombardment of Gaza. The 2 men had appeared in Sunday’s initial video along with ​​a third Israeli hostage, 26yo Noa Argamani. In the video released yesterday, she says they were killed by Israeli air strikes. Not true says Israel’s military… About 132 hostages taken from Israel are still being held in Gaza. And when it comes to concerns about broadening tensions in the Middle East, Iran has stepped up its targeting of its enemies. Yesterday officials said ‘espionage centres’ and ‘anti-Iranian terrorist groups’ in northern Iraq and Syria were hit, including Israeli spy bases. It’s this kind of thing – along with the ongoing Houthi attacks in the Red Sea – that has the international community on tenterhooks about the potential for further escalation.

World News

Presenteeism for the win

The rise of artificial intelligence in the workplace is stirring up the office v WFH debate… PwC UK boss Kevin Ellis reckons junior staff should clock more hours in the office for a faster track to promotions as AI takes over the mundane tasks. It’s a timely recommendation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warning this week that AI could shake up nearly 40% of all jobs. It means that nations need to “set up solid social safety nets and offer retraining for vulnerable workers,” says IMF’s managing director Kristalina Georgieva. There are also calls in Oz for managers to get some training on managing hybrid or remote workers. Research shows more than 40% of full-time jobs in Australia can be done from home. But corporate leaders aren’t on board with a recent survey from KPMG showing two-thirds of CEOs expect most staff to be back in the office full-time over the coming couple of years.

Business & Finance

Rays on tour

As many across the country wrap up their break, why wouldn’t a bunch of Australian cownose rays have their own summer holiday? A mass migration of the species was recently caught on camera off the Mid North Coast of NSW. Drone operator Daniel Lukic reckons there were 400 to 500 rays in the group – a big jump from the usual ‘fever’ (the collective noun for rays, don’t you know…) of up to 100. “It’s actually quite surprising seeing a group that large … I haven’t quite seen anything that large on social media,” said marine biologist Alysha Chan from Macquarie University. This unusual event could be down to mating, finding food, or hiding from predators. And with the International Union for Conservation of Nature classifying cownose rays as ‘data deficient’, the footage could be a goldmine for further research into the species.

Environment & Science

Delayed but dazzling

The Hollywood actors/writers’ strikes pushed television’s night of nights back from September, big the wins still tasted sweetThe Bear took the top spot for best comedy series, with Jeremy Allen White nabbing his first Emmy for best actor in a comedy series. Beef was the top dog in the limited/anthology series categories, with Steven Yeun and Ali Wong taking home the Best Actor and Actress awards. And Succession kept its crown, winning Best Drama Series, with Kieran Culkin and Sarah Snook winning Best Actor and Actress in a Drama Series. Other notable mentions go to Abbott Elementary’s Quinta Brunson who became the first black woman to win best actress in a comedy series in more than 40 years. And Elton John hit EGOT status with his Emmy win for his live variety special. Finally, Pedro Pascal spilt on why his arm sling is his awards season accessory of choice. And ok then here’s a fab red carpet gallery

Australian News

Apropos of Nothing

The Australian of the Year Awards are coming up next week, so the headlines yesterday were timely… A Sydney man has been charged with using insider information to place some lucrative bets on the national honours between 2017 and 2021. Talk about betting on anything… 

An £8 million ($15.3 million) plan to install King Charles’s official portrait in public buildings around the UK hasn’t gone down so well given the tough economic times. Anti-monarchists reckon it’s “a shameful waste of money”. 

We celebrated Bobi’s achievement and then mourned his loss – but his record as the world’s oldest dog is mired in controversy after it emerged he might not have been as old as first thought. Nothing is simple…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

10.00am (ACDT) – the first match of the Australia vs West Indies Test Series – Adelaide, and broadcast live on Channel 7

ABS Data Release – Building Activity, September

International Mentoring Day 

Birthdays for Aussie netball legend Liz Ellis (1973), actor Jim Carrey (1962) and former First Lady Michelle Obama (1964)

Anniversary of 

  • the start of the 13-year-long prohibition on alcohol in the US (1920)
  • the start of the Gulf War in Iraq (1991) 
  • flash flooding that occurred in the Mackay and Proserpine region of FNQ, taking the life of an Aussie man (2023)
Squiz the Day

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