Squiz Today / 21 February 2024

Squiz Today – 21 February 2024

Squiz Today Podcast

Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“I’ve always thought I’ve managed it very well.”

Said Nationals deputy leader Perin Davey yesterday of the way she speaks, which she explained in an interview sounds slurry if she’s tired/had a couple of drinks after emergency surgery in 2019. We’ve talked a couple of times about the claims against her, so thought it was only right to mention her explanation…

Shaking up our ships

The Squiz

Defence Minister Richard Marles has found $11 billion to overhaul Australia’s Navy, adding combat-ready warships laden with missiles to the ‘Enhanced Lethality Surface Combatant Fleet’. We’re getting 11 more of those, taking it to a total of 26, including 9 ‘Tier 1’ frigates and destroyers, and 11 smaller/general-purpose ships. We’ll also get 6 new “optionally crewed” surface vessels – aka “drone boats” – which can be operated remotely. It means $54 billion has been committed to increase our defence capabilities over the next decade, and Navy Chief Vice Admiral Mark Hammond says it’s a “real shot in the arm” for the Navy, making it more prepared for any future trouble in the Indo-Pacific.

Is that really necessary?

An independent review of our Navy as it prepares to add the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarines to its arsenal found the existing fleet is the oldest we’ve ever operated, and it’s not “fit for purpose”. Marles says the updates are “needed given the complexity” of our strategic circumstances (which is a nice way of saying China could have ambitions in our backyard). And it’s not just about spending… The number of Hunter-class frigates on order will drop from 9 to 6 because Marles says the previous Coalition government left a $20 billion funding hole. As for the new vessels, they will be constructed in Western and South Oz, which will create “thousands of jobs” over the next 10 years. Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy called it a “great day” for our shipbuilding industry.

Who is going to crew all of these new ships?Good question, because just last week, the Australian Defence Force revealed it is already understaffed and needs thousands of Aussies to fill their existing roles, which has seen the government consider drastic solutions… They include allowing foreigners to serve, cutting recruitment times by 200 days, and reducing fitness standards for recruits. Marles conceded yesterday that getting “the human equation right” is a “significant challenge” but says the opportunity to “participate in one of the most modern navies in the world” will help. But Coalition defence spokesman Andrew Hastie isn’t convinced – he says the Albanese Government has “a major recruitment and retention crisis on its hands” and that “morale is at an all-time low”.


Squiz the Rest

Assange misses day one of court appeal

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s last-ditch appeal to avoid extradition to the United States began in London overnight, but the 52yo Australian – who had gained approval to attend in person – wasn’t present. His lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald KC, told London’s Royal Courts of Justice he was “too ill” to attend, which comes after his wife, Stella Assange, this week described his health as being “in decline, physically and mentally”. The hearing went on without him, with Fitzgerald saying Assange was being prosecuted “for engaging in ordinary journalistic practice”. Another one of his lawyers, Mark Summers KC, alleged there was evidence of a “truly breathtaking” CIA plot to assassinate Assange, which hadn’t been examined properly. Assange is facing extradition to the US on espionage and hacking charges after publishing confidential US military files related to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It could see him sentenced to 175 years in prison.

AusPol Australian News World News

A long wait for Navalny’s family

The family of Putin critic Alexei Navalny says they’ve been told they won’t be given his body for 2 weeks following his death at an Arctic penal colony on Friday. Nalvalny’s mother has been told his body is undergoing “chemical analysis”, prompting his wife, Yulia Navalnaya, to accuse President Vladimir Putin of having him poisoned with the deadly nerve agent Novichok. She believes authorities are waiting for traces of the poison to leave his body. Novichok was popular during the Cold War, and you might remember Navalny was poisoned with it before a flight to Moscow back in 2020… Yulia also released a video message to Navalny’s supporters vowing to continue his work to “free Russia”. For its part, the Kremlin says there’s an ongoing investigation into Navalny’s death, and there are “no results” to report. The US has its doubts – President Joe Biden has announced “major sanctions” on Russia over Navalny’s death…

World News

How to find your sole mate

Got a penchant for pumps, a la Carrie Bradshaw, but don’t have her budget and want to transition away from fast fashion? It’s time to invest in some well-made shoes… But with thousands of options in shops and online, it’s not easy to know what’s actually good for your feet, so some experts are stepping in with some key tips for spotting truly fabulous footwear. Starting with the material, soft leather is a quick way to identify a quality kick as it will “last forever when cared for properly”. Be wary of plastic masquerading as “vegan leather” or “synthetic”, which will break/damage easily as they’re “very disposable”. If you’re not into glamorously strutting in heels, a thick, stitched-on rubber sole is another sure sign of sturdiness. And they say avoiding cheap hardware, like flimsy buckles, is essential. Don’t know about you, but we’re lining up for another winter in sneakers…


Feeling the benefits…

Not that it’s a competition, but new research from China’s Qingdao University reckons women come out on top when it comes to reaping the benefits of exercise… The study found that although exercise is associated with a reduced risk of premature death for men and women, the benefits are better for women. They say 140 minutes of moderate exercise a week reduces a woman’s risk of premature death from any cause by 18%. To equal that, men need 300 minutes of moderate exercise. Given women and girls are less likely to do the same amount of physical activity each week as men and boys, lead researcher Dr Hongwei Ji pointed out that the results don’t suggest women should exercise less but that “even relatively small amounts of exercise can provide significant benefits” to women who aren’t exercising enough. Time to get our huffy puffy on…


Two high-profile resignations…

Queensland’s top cop Katarina Carroll will finish up next Friday – months before her contract is due to end in July. She’s been commissioner since July 2019 and has been under pressure over growing youth crime – that came to a head with grandmother Vyleen White’s stabbing murder this month. Carroll has also faced criticism inside the force after standing down an officer who authorised colleagues to ram a stolen car. She says the role has been “the most incredible and rewarding journey”.Virgin Australia is also searching for a new boss after CEO Jayne Hrdlicka announced her departure yesterday. She came on board during turbulent times in 2020 after the airline entered administration and new management returned the airline to profitability for the first time in 11 years. Hrdlicka (who you might have seen at the Australian Open as chair of Tennis Australia…) said she’s leaving after 4 years of “heavy lifting” and will “pass the baton on” ahead of Virgin’s speculated listing on the stock exchange. Up, up and away…

Australian News

Apropos of Nothing

If you’re looking for some serenity, the Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 winners’ snaps get underneath the surface. Some shots highlight the damage humans do, but all are extremely beautiful.

“It’s the most luminous object that we now know in the universe,” says space expert  Christian Wolf. And no, he’s not talking about Taylor Swift… A team of international researchers led by the Australian National University have discovered the fastest-growing black hole ever recorded. Its mass is about 17 billion times that of our Sun, which sounds like a lot [insert shrugging lady emoji]… 

Trainspotters looking for a way to spend $1,000 have picked up 50 old-school food trollies from Japan’s famous bullet trains. Able to carry up to 50kg of refreshments, the carts were used on the iconic Shinkansen. At speeds of 300km/hour, we assume coffee was served with lids on…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30pm (AEDT) – Chris Jordan AO will address the National Press Club on all things tax

5.10pm (AEDT) – Men’s Cricket First T20I – Australia v New Zealand – Wellington 

11.00pm (AEDT) – Men’s Hockey FIH Pro League – Australia v Spain – India 

ABS Data Release – Wage Price Index, December quarter

Company Results – Rio Tinto; Stockland; Santos; Woolworths; The Star

International Mother Language Day

Birthdays for director Jordan Peele (1979), actor Elliot Page (1987), actor Sophie Turner (1996)

Anniversary of:

  • the publication of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ The Communist Manifesto (1848) and the first issue of New Yorker magazine (1925)
  • the birthdays of singer Nina Simone (1933) and actor Alan Rickman (1946)
  • the assassination of civil rights activist Malcolm X (1965)
  • Richard Nixon becoming the first US President to visit China, normalising relations between the countries in a meeting with Chinese leader Mao Zedong in Beijing (1972)
  • Australia reopening its international borders for fully vaccinated tourists (2022)
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