Squiz Today / 22 May 2024

Squiz Today – 22 May 2024

Squiz Today Podcast

Today’s listen time: 10 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“Eerily similar.”

Said actress Scarlett Johansson of ChatGPT’s AI assistant Sky’s voice… The company behind the tech is OpenAI – it denies copying the actor on purpose after she refused to lend them Her pipes but it’ll put the chatbot on “pause” after the Hollywood star threatened to sue.

Telstra hangs up on jobs

The Squiz 

Australia’s biggest telecommunications company is axing up to 2,800 jobs as cheaper internet rivals continue to chip away at its bottom line. Telstra’s CEO Vicki Brady says most of the roles are in the Enterprise business – that’s the division that provides services to big and growing businesses. Nearly 400 workers are being let go immediately, with the rest to be done by the end of the year – totalling about 9% of Telstra’s workforce. Treasurer Jim Chalmers yesterday said “we need to make sure that the services don’t suffer as a consequence of these changes.”

That’s a lotta jobs…

It is – and it’s not the first big restructure at the company. Nearly 8,000 jobs went during former CEO Andy Penn’s time at the top between 2015-2022. Remember, Telstra’s had a massive transformation from a government-owned monopoly responsible for everyone’s phones (aka the only way people used to talk…) to a publicly-listed company with heaps of competitors. Brady says the move will help lower costs by $350 million – some to be invested in AI and data services as punters ditch traditional phone calls for cheaper internet-based services like WhatsApp. She’s also promised more than $200 million of that saving will be directed into “industry-leading” redundancy packages.

What’s the reax been?

It’s fair to say unions are furious – James Perkins from the Communication Workers Union says he was “blindsided” by the move and that the impact will be “devastating” for thousands of workers and their families. Telecoms expert Paul Budde says while the scale of the cuts was a big surprise, customers have already been “conditioned to a lower level of service”. Nationals leader David Littleproud has a similar view, saying some towns are already “without coverage… for 2 or 3 days”. One part of the announcement that got a warmer response was Telstra dropping plans for a controversial inflation-linked price rise on its mobile plans. That would have hit customers on 1 July – so maybe treat yo’self with an extra coffee today if that’s you…

Australian News Business & Finance

Squiz the Rest

Deadly turbulence

A man has died and dozens of people are injured after a Singapore Airlines flight hit severe turbulence yesterday. The Boeing 777 jet carrying more than 50 Aussies was flying from London to Singapore when passengers say there was “a dramatic drop” causing people to hit the ceiling and overhead luggage compartments. Flight SQ321, with 211 passengers and 18 crew on board, was forced to make an emergency landing in Bangkok, Thailand, at 3.45pm local time. Reports say a 73yo British man died from a possible heart attack after the incident, while 18 people were hospitalised and 7 are in a critical condition. The passengers included 56 Australians, 23 Kiwis, 47 British, 16 Malaysians and 4 from the US. In a statement, Singapore Airlines offered “its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased”.

Australian News World News

No place like home

Hundreds of relieved Aussies and Kiwis have finally arrived home after days of being stuck in New Caledonia where civil unrest and violence forced the international airport to close. Two Australian defence force planes carrying over 100 tourists landed in Brisbane – as French PM Emmanuel Macron was preparing to fly into the troubled Pacific Island territory. Foreign Minister Penny Wong says more repatriation flights are planned, and the government has urged Aussies who want to leave to reach out for help. Looking elsewhere in the Pacific, the Solomon Islands’ new PM Jeremiah Manele has told our Deputy PM Richard Marles that Oz remains their “partner of choice”. Marles has been in Honiara to shore up our relationship after Manele’s predecessor Manasseh Sogavare’s chats with top officials from Beijing had raised concerns about China’s influence on one of our closest neighbours.

Australian News World News

ICC a political firestorm…

PM Anthony Albanese is under pressure over his neutral position on the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) chief prosecutor’s proposed arrest warrants for Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, his defence chief and 3 Hamas leaders for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. Yesterday, the Aussie leader said “I don’t comment on court processes … to which Australia is not a party” – a response Coalition leader Peter Dutton said was ‘squibbing’ it. Dutton “very strongly” supports US President Joe Biden calling the warrants “outrageous” because he says there is “no equivalence between Israel and Hamas”. And for a dash of something different – Amal Clooney (aka the human rights lawyer married to actor George…) says she was on an expert panel that advised the ICC to pursue the warrants.

Australian News World News

The kids are not alright

Queensland’s chief health officer has declared a “public health alert” over a significant rise in mental health issues affecting the state’s youth. Dr John Gerrard says smartphones and social media are largely responsible for the “significant issue”. Premier Stephen Miles said there’s an “undeniable link” between social media use and young people’s mental health as he revealed new usage guidelines yesterday. They urge parents to limit access to social media for children under 14yo, and “closely monitor and support children as it is introduced, and restrict time until healthy habits are established”. And it’s not just Queensland where kids’ safety was under review yesterday… Another new report has found one in 6 Aussie school children have been bullied – more than any other comparable English-speaking country.

AusPol Australian News

Sunk by shrimp

One of America’s biggest restaurant chains Red Lobster is investigating whether an “endless shrimp” promotion ultimately led to its downfall after it was responsible for $16.5 million in losses. The US$20 all-you-can-eat offering was originally a seasonal promo that ran successfully for 20 years, but it became a permanent thing after Thai Union, a Bangkok-based canned seafood company, became a major investor. Reports say the deal to supply the prawns caused “operational and financial issues”, but some analysts say it wasn’t all the crustaceans’ fault… The restaurant was popular with boomers but failed to attract younger diners – until the unintentional publicity that the shrimp promo would end prompted a new generation to make it their mission to eat as much as possible before the final tail was torn off. Now more than $440 million in debt, the Florida-based chain has filed for bankruptcy.

World News

Apropos of Nothing

Rising food prices may scandalise Aussie shoppers, but that hasn’t stopped the rise of the ‘luxury fruit’ market, with Californians paying nearly $600 for a pineapple. What makes it so special? It’s red… and that’s about it. No wonder Bert was a firm fave on this year’s Farmer Wants A Wife

If you’re keen on splashing more cash at the dinner table, how about a $200 electric spoon? The Japanese device is designed to cut the amount of salt diners add by passing a “weak electric field” to concentrate sodium ion molecules on the tongue, enhancing the perceived saltiness of the food. Sounds electrifying…

And if you’re more into flowers than food, a “humble” garden featuring 3D-printed terracotta has won the first green medal at the UK’s Chelsea Flower Show for being the most environmentally sustainable. Winning gardener Giulio Giorgi says his design connects “ancient tradition with new practices” – shame he can’t see the children’s entry

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

10.00am (AEST) – ACMI’s ‘Beings’ exhibition opens – Melbourne

12.00pm (AEST) – Bowerbird Blues will be read across Australia for National Simultaneous Storytime 

12.00pm (AEST) – Launch of the 2-day Winter Challenge sports endurance event – Hobart

12.30pm (AEST) – Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor will give the Post Budget Reply Address to the National Press Club 

5.00pm (AEST) – Queen Mary to address the Global Fashion Summit in Denmark

7.45pm (AEST) – Soccer: Friendly match between Tottenham and Newcastle – Melbourne and watch on 10 Play

Crankworx Cairns (on until 26 May) 

Wear Orange Wednesday in celebration of SES volunteers 

International Day for Biological Diversity 

Harvey Milk Day – US 

Sherlock Holmes Day

World Goth Day 

Birthdays for Naomi Campbell (1970) and Novak Djoković (1987)

Anniversary of:

  • the abolishment of the transportation of British convicts to NSW (1840)
  • the founding of the non-profit news organisation Associated Press (1846)
  • Abraham Lincoln becoming the only US President to receive a patent (for a device to lift a boat over shoals and obstructions) (1849)
  • the first modern sighting of the Loch Ness Monster by Aldie and John Mackay, who saw “something resembling a whale” (1933)
  • Ireland becoming the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote (2015)
  • the Manchester Arena bombing, which killed 22 (2017)
Squiz the Day

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