Squiz Today / 20 May 2024

Squiz Today – 20 May 2024

Squiz Today Podcast

Today’s listen time: 10 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“Staggeringly ambitious” and “absolute madness.”

Are 2 of the phrases used by the critics of the movie Megalopolis – the $180 million blockbuster funded and developed by legendary director Francis Ford Coppola. They’re also phrases that could relate to our work at The Squiz… 

Cracks in Israel’s coalition

The Squiz 

The war in Gaza is in its eighth month, and Israel’s wartime cabinet is at breaking point as frustration grows over the slow progress being made. Former military chief/National Unity party leader Benny Gantz has delivered PM Benjamin Netanyahu an ultimatum, saying he would pull out if a plan for the future of the war isn’t sorted by 8 June. It follows Defence Minister Yoav Gallant’s demand last week that Netanyahu promise he wouldn’t seek to establish an Israeli military government in Gaza. For his part, Netanyahu says the men are effectively calling for “Israeli defeat” because their demands would see Hamas remain in power in the Palestinian territory.

What’s the problem exactly? 

Gantz says there needs to be clarity on Israel’s goals going forward. Top of the list is securing the release of the hostages taken by Hamas terrorists on 7 October, and then it’s about the future governance of the territory, returning displaced Israelis to their homes, and getting back to the work of normalising relations with Saudi Arabia, among other things. Gantz says Netanyahu is “dragging the country into the abyss” but has given him 3-weeks to agree on a 6-point plan. Experts say if Gantz quits, it won’t necessarily topple the government, but it would put Netanyahu’s leadership under a dark cloud… And with the PM’s party colleague Gallant also criticising his ongoing management of the war, commentators say Netanyahu is “increasingly being squeezed”

And the war’s been an issue in Oz over the weekend? 

Yep – that’s because pro-Palestinian demonstrators made a lot of noise in Melbourne over the weekend. Yesterday, the front of the state’s parliament was a rallying point for thousands of pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters. The 2 sides had to be separated by police, and 6 people were arrested in ugly scenes that followed the Labor Party’s Victorian conference on Saturday. Premier Jacinta Allan said she was “disgusted” by the protestors who brought “violence, homophobia and anti-Semitism” to the gathering. “No one should be [cowered] by these bullies,” she said. Protestors were targeting state and federal Labor MPs who they say are “aiding and abetting the genocide of Palestinian people”. And as we head into a new week, pro-Palestinian protesters who’ve set up encampments/occupied buildings on university campuses are not going anywhere… 

* For the backstory to the university campus protests, check out our latest Squiz Shortcut

World News

Squiz the Rest

Stuck in New Caledonia

Around 300 Aussies are stuck in New Caledonia as unrest continues to grip the Pacific Island nation. The trouble started over disputed electoral reform laws for the French overseas territory being pursued in Paris with the unrest that kicked off last week, resulting in 6 deaths, businesses being torched, shops looted, and road barricades. France has sent in more than 600 heavily armed gendarmes to regain control. One stranded Australian described the situation as “desolation, it’s chaos – it’s frightening.” Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said the defence force is “ready to fly”, but “the situation on the ground is preventing flights.” She says the government will “continue to pursue approvals” to get in from the French. 

…And in other world news, a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his foreign minister has crashed overnight. Rescuers were making their way to the crash site in severe weather as we pressed go on today’s newsletter, and grave fears are held for the pair.

Australian News World News

Heartless banks

Aussie banks have been shamed for their “heartless” approach to cash-strapped customers in an ASIC report out today. The report into 10 banks, including the Commonwealth, NAB, Westpac and Macquarie, found they made it difficult for customers in hardship to get help – and 1 in 3 people dropped out of the process before receiving it. The most common claims in the 1400 hardship files reviewed were from people struggling with mortgage payments on family homes due to loss of jobs, illness or divorce. ASIC Chair Joe Longo said struggling customers deserved better from their banks. “For people who reach out to their lender to signal they need support, this can be devastating,” he said. Australian Banking Association chair Anna Bligh said banks will consider the findings and work on ways to support customers.

Australian News Business & Finance

A decision due in Assange’s latest case

It’s another big day in WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s legal life as he awaits a crucial ruling from London’s High Court tonight that could see him extradited to the US, or given permission to appeal the UK Government’s decision to send him to America. He’s facing 18 charges in America, mostly under the Espionage Act, following WikiLeaks’ release of a truckload of secret documents and diplomatic cables more than 15 years ago. Assange has spent the last 5 years in a maximum-security jail in London after 7 years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in a bid to avoid extradition. His wife Stella says she and their 2 kids will head back to Australia (paywall) if a political deal between Australia, Britain, and the US results in Assange’s release – that’s her very strong wish.

Australian News World News

Tackling a social media BBQ stopper

Australian policymakers are mulling over age verification laws for social media to keep kiddos safe online. The government has put $6.5 million towards trialling the scheme, and the industry reckons the tech is ready and proven, but there are big questions over how age verification would work and how easily it can be dodged. Around the world, age verification laws have already been passed in the UK, France, Germany, Canada, and 11 US states, with mixed results. Asked about it yesterday, PM Albanese said it’s important to pursue, citing the devastating mental health impact of social media on young people. “Every parent is concerned about the impact of social media. I think it’s the #1 topic on the sidelines of football, netball and school sports that’ll be conducted on any weekend in any part of Australia,” he said. 

Which is a good segue to plug our Squiz Kids Newshounds program. Aimed at turning the next generation into critical consumers of the information they see online, we’re proud to be part of the effort to counter the effects of mis and disinformation. 

AusPol Australian News

Yes to some taco-flavoured kisses…

In a tasty turn of events, a modest taco stand in Mexico City – El Califa de León – has become the first of its kind to bag a Michelin star. This 3x3m stand has been serving up its signature Gaonera taco to locals since 1968. And despite the $5 price tag – a bit steep by Mexico City standards – the Michelin star has seen a surge of foodies and tourists queuing up for a bite. Chef Arturo Rivera Martínez reckons the secret is in the simplicity of their taco – just a tortilla, red or green sauce, and meat. This nod from Michelin, known for its influence on food culture, shows that luxury can be found in foods that aren’t served with a side of fancy-schmancy. As El Califa de León owner Mario Hernández Alonso puts it, “why fix or change something that’s alright?”

Australian News Culture World News

Apropos of Nothing

Sir Paul McCartney has become the first British musician worth £1 billion ($1.9 billion). The UK’s Sunday Times says he’s joined the billionaire’s club thanks to his recent tour, valuable back catalogue, and Beyoncé’s cover of The Beatles’ Blackbird on her Cowboy Carter album. 

You’d think that a gathering of 706 people named ‘Kyle’ in a suburb of the same name would be record-worthy – but apparently not… On Saturday, Kyle, in Texas, fell well short of its attempt to assemble the largest gathering of people with one name. That title is held by a town in Bosnia that got 2,325 people named Ivan together in 2017. 

A drumroll please for 2024’s most confusing emoji… It’s 💅, according to a new report from language education platform Preply. 💨 and 🙃 come in second and third. Put together, the 3 clearly mean ‘I’m manicured, farty, and upside-down’…

Australian News Quirky News

Squiz the Day

9.00am (AEST) – Public hearing into the Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games Arrangements Amendment Bill – Brisbane

3.15pm (AEST) – Public hearing by Senate Committee on Adopting Artificial Intelligence – Canberra

3.15pm (AEST) – Public hearing by Joint Standing Committee on Treaties with a focus on the defence agreement between the Federal Government and the Fiji Government – Canberra

6.00pm (AEST) India-Australia Relations Headquarters launch – Sydney

Dehwa Daymaneh

Sydney Writers’ Festival (on until 26 May)

World Table Tennis Championships begin 

Australian Energy Producers Conference & Exhibition (until 23 May) – Perth 

Australian Made Week begins (until 26 May)

Start of National Volunteer Week (until 26 May) 

World Bee Day 

World Whisky Day 

Birthdays for Cher (1946) and Louis Theroux (1970)

Anniversary of:

  • Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis patenting the first blue jeans (1873)
  • Saudi Arabia gaining independence from Great Britain (1927)
  • Sukarno becoming the first President of Indonesia (1963)
  • The discovery of the bodies in the barrels at Snowtown, North Adelaide (1999) 
  • East Timor gaining independence (2002)

1.00am (AEST) – Julian Assange’s lawyers return to the High Court in a bid to avoid his extradition to the US – London

Squiz the Day

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