Squiz Today / 21 May 2024

Squiz Today – 21 May 2024

Squiz Today Podcast

Today’s listen time: 10 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“What we’re trying to do is find different creative ways of getting relay athletes to be able to practice that changeover.”

Said Swimming Australia’s general manager for performance support Jess Corones of our Olympic team’s use of virtual reality goggles as part of their prep. In a sport that involves following a line on the bottom of a pool, getting creative shouldn’t be too hard…

Iran’s President Raisi dies in a chopper crash

The Squiz 

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has been confirmed dead after his helicopter crashed in Iran’s mountainous northwest on Sunday night. Reports say Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and 7 other passengers were returning from the border region near Azerbaijan when the chopper made a “hard landing” in heavy fog. Pictures broadcast on Iranian state-run TV showed burning debris and the first rescuers at the scene saying “there is no sign of any of the passengers being alive”. A Turkish drone had located the crash site earlier in the day but the icy weather and rugged terrain meant it took a while for anyone to reach it.

What’s the lowdown on Raisi?

The President was a powerful figure in Iran – in terms of the nation’s org chart, he answered to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who is the most significant authority figure in the Islamic Republic. But the 63yo Raisi had positioned himself as the Supreme Leader’s successor… He was the one who ordered the brutal crackdown in 2022 over women not wearing a head-covering – that huge uprising that extended across the country went on for months and was ultimately quashed by authorities. Before that, Raisi was Iran’s Chief Justice and Attorney-General, and had earned the nickname “butcher of Tehran” for ordering the deaths of political prisoners in the 1980’s. 

What does it mean for the Middle East? 

We know the region is already a tinderbox… The war in Gaza has spilled over borders a few times, including last month when Iran launched hundreds of missiles at Israel in retaliation for the bombing of its consulate in Syria, and the escalating tit-for-tat has raised concerns about a wider war. Iran has long called for Israel to be “wiped off the map” and is the major backer of Palestinian resistance. Experts say Iran will want to project an image of stability, and to that end, the Ayatollah has already said that there will be “no disruption” to the work of the government. Australian leaders haven’t yet commented, but condolence messages were sent from around the world, including from India, China and the UN.

World News

Squiz the Rest

And while we’re in the Middle East region…

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) wants arrest warrants issued for Israel’s and Hamas’s leaders over alleged crimes against humanity in the Gaza war. That includes Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar – and it’s not just them… Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and the political leader of Hamas Ismail Haniyeh, along with the terror group’s military chief Mohammed Deif, are also included. Prosecutor Karim Khan says there are reasonable grounds to believe the men bear criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity from 7 October onwards. The next step is the ICC will decide whether to issue the warrants – a process that will likely take weeks. Overnight Netanyahu expressed his “disgust” at the move, and Hamas said the prosecutor was equating “the victim with the executioner”. US President Joe Biden also called the move “outrageous”.

World News

A legal lifeline for Assange

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been given a chance to avoid extradition to America, with the UK’s High Court granting him leave to appeal the order. In a decision overnight, the court found Assange could face prejudice if put on trial in the US because he was Australian. Assange is facing 18 charges relating to WikiLeaks’ publication of sensitive/classified documents in 2010. The 52yo wasn’t in court overnight because he is unwell – but his wife Stella said she’d spoken to him and he was “relieved”. “We spent a long time hearing the United States putting lipstick on a pig, but the judges did not buy it”, she said. She wants Australia to continue to lobby the US for his release, after President Joe Biden indicated he was “considering” Assange’s case. Assange will stay in prison in London until the appeal hearing, which hasn’t yet been set.

Australian News World News

Summer blackout risks

NSW and Victoria are facing a higher risk of blackouts during peak times this summer after major delays in renewables projects. Australia’s Energy Market Operator (AEMO) will today put out a call for emergency power supplies to minimise the risks – as the commissioning of new transmission lines, battery, wind and solar projects lag behind schedule. The new energy market update, which says electricity stop-gaps in NSW and Vic have deteriorated, comes a week after the Albanese Government’s renewable-centric Federal Budget and the announcement of a $300/household rebate towards electricity, along with its commitment to gas. AEMO chief Daniel Westerman said that while “new generation and storage capacity continues to increase, project development and commissioning delays are impacting reliability throughout the ­horizon”.

AusPol Australian News

A legendary chef hangs up her hat

In a sign of the tough economic times, chef/author/TV presenter Kylie Kwong will close her Sydney restaurant Lucky Kwong next month after 24 years as a restaurateur. She’s one of the biggest names in Australian hospitality, and her departure comes after several other restaurants shut their doors as consumer confidence takes a dive. Kwong says she’s “never seen the restaurant industry in such tough times” but that she’s had “far more positive experiences than negative”, and looks forward to taking some time off before exploring her passions of “food, art, culture and connection” in new ways. The praise rolled in thick and fast yesterday… TV chef Nigella Lawson thanked Kwong for her “delicious and soulful genius”, and presenter Melissa Leong said “whatever comes next will be even bigger and brighter”.

Australian News Culture

Stop the slop

Experts now have a name for carelessly automated web pages and images being generated by artificial intelligence… They say ‘slop’ is the equivalent of spam – unwanted, AI-generated content that hasn’t been through any quality control. If you’re still unsure of what we’re talking about, these images of ‘Shrimp Jesus’ – aka a son of God/shrimp composite – might give you an idea… The goal of this type of clickbait is to replicate human-made content, draw search engine attention, and rake in advertising dollars. And it’s different to higher-quality AI-generated content because it generally won’t answer people’s questions or serve their needs – and that’s prompted Google and Meta to start cracking down. Don’t hold your breath – you might be seeing some interesting-looking wood carvings, pizza/cake photos and sand sculptures for a while yet…

Culture Technology

Apropos of Nothing

France is trying to shake off its rep for being a bit rude ahead of more than a million visitors flocking to the country for the Olympics. More than 1,600 businesses have signed a charter promising to be welcoming – aka not giving the stink-eye to hapless/french language-butchering tourists.  

And if you’re headed to China anytime soon, you might be travelling around in a flying taxi… Beijing is set to get commercial electric vertical take-off and landing – aka eVTOL – services off the ground. It’s already using drones to deliver people’s mid-week takeaway… 

After being shut down due to “inappropriate behaviour” last week, the portal between New York City and Dublin is back online. To avoid a repeat of the mooning/flashing shenanigans (mostly from the Irish side…), organisers have set some new family-friendly hours of operation.

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

10.15am (ACST) – Women’s Soccer: Announcement of the Matildas squad for the upcoming series against Chile – Adelaide

11.00am (AWST) – Mediation in defamation case brought by Liberal Senator Linda Reynolds against Brittany Higgins and David Sharaz – Perth

11.30am (AEST) – Australia’s Taekwondo team to be named for the Paris Olympics – Melbourne

11.45am (AEST) – Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers to give a post-Budget business address – Sydney

11.45pm (AEST) – Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Danny Pearson will give the Victorian infrastructure address – Melbourne 

ABS Data Release – Monthly Employee Earnings Indicator; March

Republican and Democratic primaries in Kentucky and Oregon

2024 International Man Booker Prize Award winner announced

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

World Meditation Day

International Tea Day 

Start of Kidney Health Week (until May 27)

Birthdays for Leo Sayer (1948), Mr T (1952), Noel Fielding (1973), Gotye (1980), and Kayla Itsines (1991)

Anniversary of

  • aviator Charles Lindbergh becoming the first person to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic (1927)
  • Amelia Earhart becoming the first woman to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic (1932)
  • the birthday of rapper The Notorious B.I.G. (1972)
  • the Labor party led by Anthony Albanese winning the federal election (2022)
Squiz the Day

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