Squiz Today / 05 February 2024

Squiz Today – 5 February 2024

Squiz Today Podcast

Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“Even after trying it, I still have no idea whom or what this thing is supposed to be for.”

Wrote one journo after getting their hands on the Vision Pro, Apple’s new fancy headset which is their first new product in 7 years and has finally dropped in American stores. For US$3,500, you’d hope someone has a clue what it’s for…

The US strikes back

The Squiz

It was a busy weekend for the US and its Middle Eastern military operations – yesterday they teamed up with the UK to strike Houthi targets in Yemen in an attempt to stop their attacks on global trade ships. Note: Australia provided support for those attacks. And on Friday/Saturday, the US also carried out retaliatory strikes against those it holds responsible for the deaths of 3 US troops last Sunday. Those attacks hit 85 targets across Iraq and Syria – reports say 16 people were killed in Iraq and 23 in Syria.

Back it up a bit…

On 28 January, drones attacked US troops at their base in Jordan, killing 3 soldiers and wounding 40 others, and President Joe Biden promised the US would hold “all those responsible to account.” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby also promised a “multi-tiered approach” to the response, and after the attacks on Syria and Iraq, the US White House released a statement saying, “Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing”… The open question for the US is whether they can carry out retaliatory strikes without causing fighting in the region to spiral out of control. For now, all eyes are on the reaction of Iran, which is backing the Houthis, as well as other ‘proxy’ military groups causing headaches for the US and their allies in the region. 

So with an election coming up, how is this playing in America? 

For Biden, the turmoil in the Middle East comes at a tricky political time because any new war would be a bad look during the election… especially with Republicans recently scrutinising every penny spent on foreign conflicts. The latest news on the electoral front is that Biden has been handily re-endorsed by the state of South Carolina in the Democrats’ first primary race to choose their presidential candidate. It will likely be the first of many primary wins for Biden, given he doesn’t have any serious rivals from his own party, but with low voter turnouts and reports of a lack of enthusiasm among voters for another Trump-Biden showdown, there is work to be done. Still, an endorsement of roughly 96% of voters must feel nice…

World News

Squiz the Rest

New hope for Northern Ireland

For the first time, an Irish nationalist has been appointed Northern Ireland’s First Minister, and that’s notable because it’s a dramatic shift in a state created to ensure the dominance of pro-British unionists. Michelle O’Neill’s Sinn Féin political party – which previously had ties to the Irish Republican Army whose objective was to end British rule – say a united Ireland is now “within touching distance”. O’Neill’s appointment comes as her pro-British political opponents, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), agreed to end a 2-year boycott of the power-sharing government that brought politics to a standstill. O’Neill is promising to represent people on both sides, saying she will “be a first minister for all”. The DUP will select a Deputy First Minister who will have equal power to O’Neill when the Assembly restarts this week.

World News

Imran Khan-not catch a break

Pakistan’s ex-PM Imran Khan has been sentenced again alongside his wife, Bushra Bibi, after a court ruled their 2018 marriage was illegal and un-Islamic. That carries a 7-year jail sentence. He’s already serving a 3-year sentence for corruption and was handed 10 years for leaking classified documents last Tuesday, followed by Wednesday’s sentence of 14 years for selling/keeping expensive state gifts. Whether his various sentences will be served concurrently is unknown. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party says he’s been tried by “kangaroo courts” to stop him from contesting Thursday’s national election. Instead, 3-time former PM Nawaz Sharif is expected to win even though he was also jailed for corruption ahead of the 2018 election that Khan won. This time around analysts say Sharif is favoured by the powerful military establishment, and that can only help his electoral prospects…

World News

Money on my mind

New year, new Reserve Bank schedule… Our central bank will deliver its first interest rate decision of the year tomorrow – and for the first time, the board will hold part one of the meeting today with its monthly decision-making get-together now split over 2 days. It’s part of Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ overhaul of the way the Reserve Bank does business in response to an independent review. As for the substance of the meeting, analysts reckon rates will stay on hold after inflation dropped more than predicted in December. Also on the cards this week: legislation to amend the Stage 3 tax cuts. Yesterday, PM Anthony Albanese said he’s an “honest person” despite the backflip and hopes to have the changes finalised by Easter. With the Coalition and the Greens yet to declare their hand on support for the changes, it will be the topic of conversation as the Federal Parliament sits tomorrow for the first time in 2024…

Australian News Economy

Passing of an Indigenous icon 

One of Australia’s most influential First Nations leaders and activists, Yankunytjatjara woman Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue, has died at 91yo. As a member of the Stolen Generations, she was taken at 2yo and raised in a children’s home, only reuniting with her mother 30 years later. O’Donoghue was trained as a domestic servant but fought to become SA’s first Indigenous nurse, before taking on several prominent roles including at the National Aboriginal Conference. In 1984, she became Australian of the Year – one of many awards recognising her work “bridging the cultural gap” between First Nations people and other Australians. O’Donoghue’s niece Deb Edwards said her family are “full of never-ending pride” as her legacy lives on through the Lowitja O’Donoghue Foundation and the Lowitja Institute. PM Anthony Albanese praised her “profound desire” to bring the country “closer together”, while Indigenous leader Noel Pearson said she was “the definition of courage”.

Australian News

Royal roly-polling

They say you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone, and it seems the threat of losing one or more of the British royals has made the public reconsider their value… A new poll shows the recent health scares of both King Charles and Princess Kate gave them a boost in the popularity stakes. Both jumped 3% in their ratings while undergoing treatment in hospital, as did Queen Camilla, who kept calm and carried on in their absence. Kate is now just one point behind heir/hubby Prince William, who continues to be the most popular with 62% of people feeling good about him. The same can’t be said for his brother, though, as both Harry and Meghan’s popularity dropped, with 47% of people saying they have an unfavourable opinion of the Spare. With the working royals riding high, is it any wonder some Aussies are champing at the bit for our official portrait of the King


Apropos of Nothing

Most of us are guilty of hoarding some old rubbish in our garage/wardrobe, but that usually doesn’t include a nuclear missile… Police in Washington state sent the bomb squad to the owner’s home before breathing a sigh of relief that it didn’t actually contain a warhead… 

Speaking of dusting old things off… Michael Jordan’s 30yo trainers have gone under the hammer for US$8 million. The sneakers worn during his 6 NBA championship wins in the 90s set a record for game-worn trainers, even though the new owner only got one shoe from each pair…

If you like big crocs and you cannot lie, you might wanna head to the Kimberley where scientists have discovered that salties are getting bigger in size and population. One river boasts 7 of the reptiles per kilometre – 80% of which are larger than 1.8m in length. Yikes…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.00pm (AEDT) – 2024 Grammy Awards – Los Angeles, and broadcast live on Seven

ABS Data Release – International Trade in Goods, December 2023 

National Weatherperson’s Day

World Nutella Day 

Yorkshire Pudding Day in the UK

Birthdays for Michael Sheen (1969), Mary Queen of Denmark (1972) and Cristiano Ronaldo (1985)

Anniversary of:

  • the discovery of the world’s largest alluvial gold nugget – the Welcome Stranger weighing 97.14kg – in Moliagul, Australia (1869)
  • the US Senate acquitting US President Donald Trump of charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress (2020)
  • the death of former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf (2023) 
Squiz the Day

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