Squiz Today / 19 February 2024

Squiz Today – 19 February 2024

Squiz Today Podcast

Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“I don’t think that I was ”

Said Nationals deputy leader Perin Davey who’s been accused of rocking up to a Senate Committee hearing a little tipsy last week. It was the second time the party’s members were under scrutiny over their drinking after Barnaby Joyce was filmed lying on a footpath… Dry March anyone?

Putin under pressure over Navalny’s death

The Squiz

Russia is under pressure to release the body of Alexei Navalny – one of President Vladimir Putin’s staunchest critics – after he died in a remote Arctic jail on Friday. Officials say he suffered from “sudden death syndrome” – aka an unexplained cardiac arrest – after collapsing during a walk at the infamous Polar Wolf penal colony. His mother Lyudmila Navalnaya was turned away from a morgue and told a second post-mortem was needed when she tried to reclaim his body on the weekend. His supporters say authorities are trying to “cover traces” of foul play. 

Who was he?

The 47yo anti-corruption investigator was Russia’s most prominent opposition figure who ran exposés on Putin and his inner circle, despite being repeatedly jailed since 2011 and barred from running in the 2018 presidential election. Navalny had a huge social media presence and was popular particularly young Russians who want Putin and his cronies gone. He gained global attention in 2020 after he was poisoned with a nerve agent after falling ill during a flight to Moscow in what his supporters say was an assassination attempt. After recovering, he returned to Russia in 2021 and was immediately jailed – a calculated move addressed in the Oscar-winning documentary Navalny. A series of “politically motivated” convictions for extremism and terrorism followed that saw him moved around several high-security jails, with his team only locating him at the Arctic IK-3 penal colony in December.

So that’s that? 

Well, Navalny’s wife Yulia says she can’t be sure her husband is dead because “Putin and his government … lie incessantly” – but she says Putin should be held accountable if he is. Whether that’s possible is in doubt because since the war on Ukraine, there’s been an even bigger crackdown by the Russian Government on dissent, with Putin labelling non-supporters as “traitors”. But for his part, Navalny expected to die for his actions and recorded a message encouraging his supporters to continue the fight – including through his Anti-Corruption Foundation – saying they are “not allowed to give up” and that if he was killed it meant they are “incredibly strong”. As they have in big numbers in the past, Navalny’s supporters have protested across Europe and in Russia, where dozens of demonstrators were arrested over the weekend. 

World News

Squiz the Rest

A boatload of border protection problems

Thirty-nine asylum seekers found in 2 groups on the remote Western Australian coast have been sent to Nauru for processing. The Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals are believed to have arrived from Indonesia, and Australian Border Force officials are investigating how they made it to the Australian coast. Coalition leader Peter Dutton says the Albanese Government’s failed to maintain Operation Sovereign Borders – aka Australia’s national border security program. “If they had no prior warning of the arrival of this boat, then it shows the Prime Minister and the minister [Andrew Giles] have lost control of our borders,” Dutton said. But PM Anthony Albanese, who is taking his Cabinet to the West for meetings today and tomorrow, says he is “very confident” processes are in order.

AusPol Australian News

Trump takes a hit

Former US President Donald Trump has vowed to appeal a New York judge’s ruling that he, 2 of his sons and other Trump Organisation associates must pay about A$544 million to the state of New York after being found guilty of fraud. Judge Arthur Engoron found the Trump Organisation lied about the value of its property portfolio. Trump was also banned from serving as a company director in New York for 3 years, while his two eldest sons have been banned for 2 years each. Trump made his business name through his Manhattan property empire in the decades before he became president. Speaking in Florida, he said he’d “built a perfect company”, and described it as a political witch hunt. He’s estimated to owe more than A$831 million in legal debts after this latest ruling. His foray into sneaker design might be a way to help recoup some losses…

World News

Sydney’s asbestos problem spreads

As the list of locations affected by the NSW asbestos mulch crisis grows, reports say the processing plant at the centre of things has been contaminated with asbestos before. The number of affected sites rose to more than 30 yesterday, and includes a hospital, schools and parks. What they have in common is their mulch came from a company called Greenlife located in southwest Sydney, and it has had several clean-up notices from the Environment Protection Authority dating back to 2016. Greenlife disputes the claim, saying its mulch was “cleared of any asbestos contaminates” by independent contractors during several site visits last year. NSW Environment Minister Penny Sharpe says a taskforce is investigating the contamination, and that there’s “clearly a problem and a regulatory gap when it comes to how the asbestos has got there”.

Australian News

Going with your gut

When it comes to making big decisions, we’re often told to “listen to our gut” – but if you’ve ever wondered what’s really at play, a team of scientists from NSW Uni is breaking down what intuition is. Neuroscientist Joel Pearson is studying how details picked up by our subconscious mind end up affecting and influencing our decisions, feelings and behaviour. He says what it boils down to is “the learned, positive use of unconscious information for better decisions or actions” using all our senses whether we realise it or not… Pearson says our brains are then “going to be making a prediction based on prior learning, situations you’ve been in, also movies you’ve watched and all the things that you’ve been through in your life”. That means we’re pretty clever, but it doesn’t explain why we keep going back to the biscuit barrel even though we feel a bit sick…

Australian News Health

A takeaway staple hits the big-time

Whether you call it a potato scallop, potato cake or even a fritter (depending on which side of Oz you’re from…), the fried treat is now all the rage among hip chefs who’re elevating the simple spud. Schmanzy restaurants in Melbourne and Sydney are serving up the battered slice of heaven in an array of exciting new forms, including dusted with pulverised seaweed, alongside whipped cod roe and caviar, under raw scallops and even soaked in saltbush and vinegar in a nod to British fish and chips. The best method for cooking the greasy delight and which variety of potato is best are hotly contested… Some swear by the Sebago, while others are all about the Dutch cream. We’re happy to try them all and report back – for scientific research purposes only though of course…

Quirky News

Apropos of Nothing

UK nature guide David Atthowe has discovered that taking an ultraviolet torch with him on his outdoor adventures can lead to some magic. He’s using it to show off Welsh rainforest and rockpool sites that are teeming with biofluorescent animals and plants. It’s like a real-life Pandora

If you’ve ever had a surprise party mishap, spare a thought for BBC presenter Kawser Quamer who accidentally revealed the plans for her niece’s surprise birthday party during an on-air chat on Friday. She’d better rock up with a really big gift…

Look away now, hot cross bun purists… A bunch of ‘hybrid’ hot cross buns have been popping up on shelves ahead of Easter. Vegemite, Barbecue Shapes, Biscoff, and Iced VoVo versions are floating about – and this guide breaks down which ones are worth a go.

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

Company results – Insurance Australia; QBE Insurance; Telstra

The 46th Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival begins (on until 3 March)  – Sydney

National Multicultural Fest (on until 18 Feb) – Canberra 

2024 Bathurst SuperFest (on until 25 Feb) – Bathurst 

Table Tennis World Championship (on until 25 Feb) – South Korea

Kyoto Protocol Day 

Innovation Day

Do a Grouch a Favour Day

Birthdays for Cathy Freeman (1973), The Weeknd (1990)

Anniversary of:

  • Pope Gregory the Great decreeing “God bless you” as the correct response to a sneeze (600)
  • the deaths of 21 Australian nurses in the Banka Island Massacre in WWII (1942, and today’s the 80th anniversary)
  • the Ash Wednesday bushfires in Victoria (1983)
  • the Kyoto Protocol coming into force following its ratification by Russia (2005)
  • the death of two men who became trapped 125m underground in the Dugald River zinc mine (2023)
Squiz the Day

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