Squiz Today / 08 February 2024

Squiz Today – 8 February 2024

Squiz Today Podcast

Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“You can’t buy a loaf of bread without the bank’s permission.”

Said North Queensland MP Bob Katter who wasn’t happy when the Parliament House cafeteria wouldn’t let him pay cash. He’s had the policy overturned, saying it’s important because digital payment systems aren’t failproof, and “without cash you’ll starve”. There’s a man who really wanted lunch… 

Pakistan votes, big style

The Squiz

As elections go, Pakistan’s general election today is a big one. It’s the world’s 5th most populous country, which means it’s a vast election to stage – 128 million voters will choose from 5,121 candidates across 167 political parties to elect 266 representatives. And tensions are also high… In 2023, Pakistan saw a surge in violence connected to the campaigns and reports this morning say 26 people have been killed in 2 explosions near candidates’ offices overnight. That led election observers to have low expectations for a free and fair election. A lot of the focus is on former PM/cricket great Imran Khan, the alleged crackdown on his supporters, and the suppression of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

What’s the Khan story?

Last year, Khan was arrested and sentenced to 3 years in jail for selling/keeping gifts he received while PM. But that’s not all… In the last few weeks, Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi were handed multiple jail sentences from some of the 150 cases launched against him. Khan says it’s part of a plot by Pakistan’s all-powerful military establishment to keep him and the PTI out of power. That’s not been proven, but the military has form on interfering in the nation’s politics. This leads us to an interesting twist in the tale… The leading candidate for today’s election is Nawaz Sharif – he’s been PM 3 times before and was removed in a military coup. Sharif is back in favour with the military and poised to recapture the top job. As they say in the classics, the fourth time’s the charm…

What’s at stake in this election?

Not to be dramatic, but Pakistan is a huge country with nuclear weapons and a tetchy relationship with 3 of its 4 neighbours, including Iran. The nation is also in a world of economic pain with inflation nearing 30% – and it’s relying on the International Monetary Fund to avoid defaulting on its debt. So eyes from around the world are on this election… Pakistan’s electoral commission will announce the unofficial results on Friday, with the official tally due by 22 February. It’s also worth noting that Pakistan is one of the first nations to vote in a bumper year for democracy, with voters in India, Indonesia, and (of course) the US amongst those heading to the ballot box. Best of luck out there, voters…

World News

Squiz the Rest

Houthis strike more ships in the Red Sea

The Iranian-backed Houthis have launched fresh attacks on commercial ships from the US, UK, and Greece in the Red Sea, motivated by the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. It casts doubt on the effectiveness of the recent wave of US-led strikes on Houthi targets. Analysts say a better plan to deal with the Houthis is needed to keep the crucial shipping passage open. As for what’s happening in Gaza, Hamas has responded to a new ceasefire proposal that has been served up by Qatar this week. Reports overnight say it wants Israeli forces to withdraw and for the war to end after 3 45-day truce periods. During the ceasefire, hostages taken from Israel would be released, as would Palestinian prisoners being held in Israel. Analysts say it’s unlikely that Israel would agree to that because it is driving for “total victory” against Hamas.

World News

IR reforms get the Green light

The Albanese Government’s ‘closing loopholes’ industrial relations bill will pass after Labor did a deal last night with Senators David Pocock and Lidia Thorpe and the Greens. Crucial to that has been accepting the ‘right to disconnect’ amendment, which means employees can’t be punished for not responding to work calls/messages in their free time. The proposal doesn’t prevent “reasonable contact” if there are things like shift changes to communicate, but it does mean employers could face fines if they’re too needy outside business hours. The Coalition and business groups aren’t happy – they say workers and employers have always navigated these things using common sense. The deal means the government’s broader industrial relations aspirations will be realised after months of negotiations. That includes things like boosting wages for gig workers and giving casual workers more opportunities for permanent work.


A probe into prices

Professor Allan Fels, a former Australian Competition and Consumer Commission boss, released his report on claims that big companies are overcharging consumers. He was commissioned by the unions to do a deep dive into sectors including supermarket retailing, aviation, banking, energy, and childcare. And after receiving more than 700 submissions, he says there’s evidence that some of our best-known businesses “have been able to leverage the disruptions and uncertainty that followed the COVID pandemic into unprecedented profitability.” In response, Fels has called on the federal government to find a way to ensure we pay fair prices for the things we need. Fels’ conclusions contradict what businesses say about the cost of living crisis. For example, Coles yesterday said Aussies are paying more at the checkout to cover wage increases and rising wholesale costs, not to bolster their profits.

Australian News Economy

Taylor Swift’s not-so-private jet

While fans have been concerned about Swift returning from Tokyo in time to see beau Travis Kelce play the Super Bowl in Las Vegas on Monday, one avid plane spotter has been told not to concern himself with the singer’s aerial movements… Jack Sweeney, who’s been tracking Swift’s private jet on social media, received a cease and desist letter from her lawyers, who say his actions are a “matter of life and death”. For years, the 21yo student has used publicly available data to track celebrities to highlight their carbon footprint, earning him a Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ nod. But Tay Tay’s attorneys aren’t impressed, accusing him of “stalking and harassing behaviour” – and it’s not the first time he’s tussled with a public figure… But some of Swift’s fans have defended Sweeney, calling the letter “cruel”, telling the lawyers You Need to Calm Down

Culture Environment & Science

Some out-of-this-world plans

With private companies setting their sights on exploring our solar system, international space law experts (yep – that’s a thing…) say we need to be careful not to exploit the moon. If you’re wondering ‘what the heck’, they’re talking about sending human ashes, launching advertising, and building religious monuments there. Cue talk about the need to set some moon-surface rules in place before corporations get all starry-eyed… “We need to be careful we’re not contaminating it – not just with biological and chemical contamination, but with litter,” attorney Leslie Tennen says. And new NASA research shows there are more ‘moonquakes’ on the surface than scientists had thought, raising questions over plans for future human outposts. “The moon is not this benign place where nothing is happening,” said researcher Tom Watters.


Apropos of Nothing

Here’s one of those questions a toddler might stump you with: what is dust? You might be able to guess that it’s made up of dirt tracked in from outside mixed with dead skin and hair – but it might also contain flame retardants, lead, or mould. Note to self – it’s time to vacuum…

There’s been a lot of swearing at wildlife on K’gari (aka Fraser Island) lately after a spate of dingo attacks, but 2 fishers were shocked when they were circled by a whale shark. Yikes… 

And if you’re keen for some non-expletive-laden nature, though, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year winner has been declared. The angelic sleeping polar bear is a cracker, followed by the happiest turtle you’ve ever seen…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

9.45am (AEDT) – Papua New Guinea PM James Marape will address the Australian Parliament – Canberra 

4.30pm (AEDT) – World Aquatics Championships Water Polo – Australia v South Africa – Dubai

5.45pm (AEST) – 2024 AACTA Industry Awards – Gold Coast

Pakistan general election

Company results – AGL Energy; Mirvac; Transurban Group

ABS Data Release – Building Approvals, December 2023

Tasmania schools are back for term 1 of 2024

2024 NBA trade deadline

Laugh And Get Rich Day

Birthdays for screen composer John Williams (1932) and author John Grisham (1955)

Anniversary of the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots (1587)

Squiz the Day

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