Squiz Today / 17 March 2023

Squiz Today – Friday, 17 March

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Squiz Today Podcast

Gotta love an informed Friday.

Today’s listen time: 9.30 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“First we had COVID, now the plague.”

Said one Paris shop owner as rats emerge following a days-long strike by waste collectors that’s seen thousands of tonnes of rubbish pile up on the streets. Remy from bistro La Ratatouille has probably been able to do a deal with his rellies to keep them off his premises…

US threatens to ban dance on TikTok

The Biden administration has called on social media giant TikTok’s Chinese owner to sell their stake in the business prompting the company to hit back. There’s been no official statement, but reports that surfaced yesterday say the US Government has threatened to ban the app in the US entirely if Beijing-based ByteDance doesn’t sell up. That comes after the White House upped the ante last month when it gave all federal agencies 30 days to clear the app off work devices over increasing data/national security fears.

It’s not for selling… A spokeswoman said it wouldn’t change much, and the best way to address concerns would be “transparent” and “robust third-party monitoring, vetting, and verification”. TikTok says it’s been working on those things with the US Justice Department since last year to update the platform’s data safeguards for America’s 100 million users. But reports say there have been growing concerns on the US side that it wouldn’t go far enough. As for TikTok, a US-wide ban would be a massive blow… That’s because its bread and butter is its 834 million monthly users worldwide, many of whom are young and not concerned about data harvesting. But if the US jumps, it could trigger similar actions across other Western countries, which would massively hit TikTok’s drive for users and revenue. So, with the company rejecting the government’s push to sell, its chief executive Shou Zi Chew is in for it when he appears in front of Congress on 23 March.

Essentially, officials are worried TikTok’s parent company ByteDance could give user data – like browsing history and location – to the Chinese Government. There are also concerns it could manipulate users by pushing propaganda and misinformation on China’s behalf. Republican Mike McCaul (chairman of the powerful House Foreign Relations Committee) says he’s concerned data is going straight to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to use for “their malign activities”. ”Anyone with TikTok downloaded on their device has given the CCP a backdoor to all their personal information,” he said. Speaking of managing threats from China, PM Anthony Albanese was also looking to alleviate some security-related tension yesterday… He said former Labor PM Paul Keating “diminished” himself when he slammed the AUKUS security pact on Wednesday. Keating tore strips off Albanese’s ministers for misreading China, saying it’s not seeking to impose its ideology on the world.

Technology World News

Squiz the Rest

Lehrmann’s first public comments

Bruce Lehrmann, the man accused of assaulting his former colleague/Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, has not made any comments in public – until yesterday. That changed due to his quest to have his defamation lawsuit heard by the Federal Court – that’s in doubt because he did not file his claim against News Corp/Samantha Maiden and Network Ten/Lisa Wilkinson within the one-year limitation period. Higgins’ interviews that Lehrmann claims defamed him were broadcast/published on 15 February 2021, but the legal paperwork was filed 2 years later. Lehrmann says he was held up by the criminal case, legal advice he received, and his own mental health battles. And yesterday, the focus was on when he received legal advice with text messages to his then-girlfriend on the night those interviews appeared, saying his lawyer had told him he could be “up for millions” if named. As they say in the classics, the hearing continues… 

Australian News Crime

A boost for jobs and our population

Australia’s unemployment rate fell from 3.7% in January to 3.5% in February, thanks to the 65,000 jobs added last month, according to new data from the Bureau of Statistics. The strong result outperformed economists’ expectations of 50,000 new jobs/a 3.6% jobless rate and has been put down to an unusually large number of people waiting to start a new position in February. The pool of potential workers is also on the rise, with our population increasing by 1.6% to 26.1 million in the 12 months to September 2022 – that puts it back to pre-pandemic levels after a surge in migration. Those bits of economic data complicate predictions on interest rate movements… Some say the Reserve Bank could hold off in the light of recent instability with those US bank collapses, but many say inflation’s only going to worse, so an 11th consecutive rate hike is likely. Insert shrugging lady emoji…

Australian News Business & Finance

A(nother) bad day for financial institutions

Starting domestically… Latitude Financial has become the latest Aussie company to fall victim to a cyberattack after hackers stole the personal data of almost 330,00 customers. The business provided buy now, pay later products for Aussie retailers, including Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi, meaning it holds a lot of sensitive customer data. Latitude says the “sophisticated” attack saw hackers use staff logins to steal data, including at least 100,000 identity documents like driver’s licences. The company is working with cyber experts and regulators to contain the incident. And markets worldwide slumped yesterday, with one of Europe’s biggest banks, Credit Suisse, said to be on the brink of collapse. It will borrow $81 billion from the Swiss central bank to shore up its finances, but there are fears of a global financial crisis after recent US bank collapses.

Australian News Business & Finance

Bouncing up a ban on kangaroo leather

Nike has joined Puma to commit to ending their use of kangaroo hide in 2023 after the pressure was ramped up by animal welfare lobbyists – particularly one campaign called ‘Kangaroos Are Not Shoes’ run by the US-based Center for a Humane Economy. It’s also lobbied US lawmakers to ban the sale of kangaroo products to some success… There are bills before the state legislatures of Oregon, Arizona, Connecticut, Vermont and New Jersey. And long before that, California banned the product in the 1970s. Campaigners here and abroad have long protested against the commercial shooting of kangas, and in recent years, European-based fashion brands from Chanel to H&M have responded by giving up kangaroo leather. One US report has noted that many Aussies would be surprised by the ‘save the kanga’ push when there are more of ‘em than human Aussies…

Sport World News

Moonwalking in style

US space agency NASA wants to get astronauts back on the moon by the end of the decade, and yesterday it unveiled prototypes for the snazzy new spacesuits that will be used for those missions. The streamlined design significantly departs from the Michelin Man-esque spacesuits that Neil Armstrong and Co wore when they walked on the lunar surface half a century ago. Yesterday, the prototypes were displayed with a grey outer layer to keep the exact design under wraps – note: the final design will be white to best suit the moon’s harsh conditions. The new spacesuits are 3D printed to allow for a better range of movement and comfort for both men and women. That’s important because the planned Artemis 3 mission will be the first to send a female astronaut to walk on the Big Cheese, and NASA doesn’t want a repeat of their all-female spacewalk fail


Friday Lites – Three things we like this week

We were messy eaters before COVID, and those couple of years of not eating in front of many people turned us into Oscar the Grouch-level garbage guts. That means bad stains at inopportune times, and this guide offered some relief. As we now have a Tide-To-Go pen in every handbag/work backpack…

We’re a bit late to the concept of ‘cosy mysteries‘, but we’ve been watching them courtesy of ABC TV on a Friday/weekend night for way too many years. We’re currently enjoying Professor T, starring Ben Miller (aka the original detective inspector in Death in Paradise, another cosy…). Catch it on BritBox (psst there’s a 7-day free trial…).

If you like to cook and you’re not signed up for Hetty McKinnon’s free monthly newsletter, you should. Do it right now… It dropped yesterday with a carrot and sun-dried tomato soup recipe we will make this weekend. We don’t have a link for that, so another fave – this summer lasagne – will have to do. It’s great on a Sunday for early week lunch/dinner leftovers…

Friday Lites

Squiz the Day

3.30pm (AEDT) – Men’s Cricket – First ODI – Australia v India – Mumbai

Early voting opens for the NSW state election

Productivity Commission releases 1000-page report about the economic challenges facing Oz

St Patrick’s Day

World Sleep Day

Birthdays for actor Kurt Russell (1951), Billy Corgan (1967) and Grimes (1988)

Anniversary of:
• the deaths of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (180) and Saint Patrick (461)
• Edward the Black Prince being made Duke of Cornwall, the first Duchy made in England (1337)
• the patenting of the rubber band and self-raising flour (1845)
• Albert Einstein finishing his scientific paper detailing his Quantum Theory of Light, one of the foundations of modern physics (1905)
• the birthdays of Gottlieb Daimler (1834), Nat King Cole (1919), and Alexander McQueen (1969)

Squiz the Day

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