Squiz Today / 31 January 2024

Squiz Today – 31 January 2024

Squiz Today Podcast

Today’s listen time: 10.15 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“It’s a bit of tradition in Australian sport, isn’t it?” 

Said PM Anthony Albanese of the Australian Open crowd’s ceremonial booing when he was introduced during the presentation after the men’s singles final on Sunday night. And he’s right – you’d be more worried if they cheered…

Hey small spender

The Squiz  

It turns out that last year’s Christmas cheer was on a tight budget… New data from the Bureau of Stats that dropped yesterday shows a significant fall in retail spending in December. Central to the story is Aussies’ splurge during November’s Black Friday sales, but the 2.7% drop in retail spending into December is still almost unheard of. According to the government agency, the biggest drop came from household goods retailing (including everything from furniture to garden supplies to electronics), which fell by 8.5% between November and December. 

Ho ho no…

Yep, Santa has some explaining to do… Speaking of retail stress, the stats were driven home with news that vacuum retailer Godfreys has been sucked up by the times and entered voluntary administration. The brand, established in 1931, has 141 stores across Australia and New Zealand, and the administrators expect to clean out 54 of those stores within the next fortnight, which will see 193 staff lose their jobs. As for why Godfreys is getting a hose down, administrator Craig Crosbie says that “lower customer demand amid cost of living pressures, higher operating costs, and increased competition have all taken a toll on profitability”. They will try to sell what’s left of the business. 

What’s the outlook?

You won’t find any predictions here, not during this rollercoaster economic cycle… but the data shows heaps of Aussies are feeling gloomy. A new survey from ANZ and Roy Morgan shows that the economic pessimists still outweigh the optimists, which has been the norm since 2022. At the same time, the Australian Stock Exchange has been on a tear for the past few months and is nearly at an all-time high. So, it’s complicated… but there are 2 things thing we do know: some important inflation numbers are out this morning, and the Reserve Bank board is convening next Tuesday for its February meeting on interest rates. So let’s get those inputs and see what the boffins and analysts make of it all…


Squiz the Rest

Khan bowled another googly

Former Pakistani PM/cricket great Imran Khan is adding a 10-year prison sentence to his current 3-year term – this time for revealing official secrets. Khan was ousted by his opponents as the nation’s leader in 2022, and he’s currently juggling over 150 legal cases from his time in office on everything from contempt of court to terrorism. But in this specific case, he’s been found guilty of leaking secret diplomatic correspondence sent by Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington that claimed US officials threatened to topple his government and oust him. That’s a claim America denies… Khan was jailed in August for corruption, and his latest sentence comes at an interesting time – the country’s general election is on Thursday next week, and Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party has been banned from running.  

World News

Reeling from a shark attack

People have been advised to stay out of the water as Lauren O’Neill recovers from surgery after she was attacked by a shark in Sydney Harbour on Monday evening. The 29yo sustained a serious leg injury after being bitten by what experts reckon was a bull shark – she was swimming in the city’s eastern suburbs just before 8pm. Several passersby came to her aid, including “hero” vet Fiona Crago, who used bandages she had just bought to stop the bleeding until emergency services arrived. Shark attacks in Sydney Harbour are rare… The last one happened in 2009 when navy diver Paul de Gelder lost an arm and leg to a 3m bull shark during a counter-terrorism exercise – he now works as a conservationist for the species. Officials say warmer/cleaner waters have encouraged more sharks into the harbour, but the chances of another attack are “incredibly low”.

Australian News

Umm I look different…

Just one day after Elon Musk’s social media platform X (formerly Twitter) blocked searches for Taylor Swift over the circulation of fake/nasty AI-generated images, Victorian Animal Justice Party MP Georgie Purcell took to the platform to call out Nine News for creating and using a digitally altered photo of her. The edited snap used during a story on duck hunting made Purcell’s breasts appear larger and her clothing more revealing. Using a side-by-side of the fake next to the original, Purcell said the incident had not been on her “bingo card”, and she couldn’t “imagine this happening to a male MP”. Nine apologised, saying the changes resulted from an “automation by Photoshop” and that no staff were involved. Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan labelled the incident concerning, calling on people to “think about the message that it sends particularly to young women” who see “distorted images” day after day.

Australian News

And while we’ve got Elon Musk on the brain…

…the billionaire’s neurotechnology startup Neuralink has implanted the first chip into a human brain with “promising” results. The cutting-edge surgery is part of a study looking at whether the implant can safely power a wireless brain-computer interface to help people with quadriplegia (aka the paralysis of all 4 limbs) to control devices with their minds. Thanks to the study, Neuralink is valued at US$5 billion – and like Musk’s other companies, it hasn’t been without controversy… Last year, US authorities found it improperly stored hazardous waste, and employees complained that rushed animal trials caused unnecessary deaths – including monkeys who played computer games using their thoughts. That hasn’t stopped Musk from talking up the company’s prospects, saying: “Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer”. The company plans to perform 11 human surgeries this year, but experts say a widely available brain implant is still years away.


An act of discipline to kickstart your week…

One content sub-genre we enjoy is the morning routines of high achievers – and UK PM Rishi Sunak’s is the latest to be revealed. But for him, it’s more of a morning-afternoon-evening routine… Sunak is a fan of fasting, but he takes it a step further than most – abstaining from eating for 36 hours every week. Reports say he only has water, tea, or black coffee from 5pm Sunday to 5am Tuesday. And while the thought of that makes us hangry, experts reckon Sunak could be onto something… Adam Collins, a University of Surrey nutrition professor, says it’s a condensed version of the 5:2 diet, which involves restricting yourself to 500-600 calories twice a week. But he says the 36-hour fast works by helping the body get used to shifting between “using fundamental carbohydrates for fuel” and “using fat as fuel”, which could have several health benefits. Sure, but what a way to start the week…

Environment & Science World News

Apropos of Nothing

Florence’s flourishing tourism numbers have prompted some rather strong words from one of the Italian city’s museum directors… Cecilie Hollberg later apologised “for having used the wrong words” after saying that Florence was a “prostitute” being “crushed by tourism”. 

Police intervened when they saw a man running with a fridge on his back in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, thinking he’d stolen it – but it turns out Daniel Fairbrother was training to break a record for the “fastest marathon carrying a household appliance”.

There’s a record for everything… If you never got into legal drama Suits, now might be the time… The Duchess of Sussex’s last foray into acting has set a new record as the most streamed title ever, with 57.7 billion viewing minutes recorded. Bluey is coming for the crown, though…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30pm (AEDT) – Allegra Spender MP and Dr Richard Denniss address the National Press Club on Australia’s tax dilemma

ABS Data Release – Consumer Price Index, December Quarter 2023; Monthly Consumer Price Index indicator December 2023 

Independence Day in Nauru

Birthdays for Portia de Rossi (1973), Jackie O (1975) and Justin Timberlake (1981)

Anniversary of: 

  • the launch of Apollo 14, which went on to be the third successful human landing on the Moon (1971)
  • the United Kingdom officially leaving the European Union (2020)
Squiz the Day

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