Squiz Today / 18 November 2022

Squiz Today – Friday, 18 November

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Squiz Today Podcast

News to get you over the Friday line. 

Today’s listen time: 9.30 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“Mariah Carey being denied the trademark to ‘Queen of Christmas’ implies that the rightful heir to the throne is out there somewhere…”

Tweeted one wag after the All I Want For Christmas singer’s claim to the title was turned down by the US Patent and Trademark Office. So who’s the real deal? Even Carey herself agrees it’s a certain country music songstress

A long-awaited homecoming

Economist Sean Turnell has been released from detention in Myanmar and deported – he arrived in Bangkok overnight on his way home to Australia. He is said to be one of 6,000 prisoners to be released as a part of an amnesty granted on the country’s National Day, along with former British ambassador Vicky Bowman, Japanese filmmaker Toru Kubota and American botanist Kyaw Htay Oo. PM Anthony Albanese said the 58yo was “in very good spirits” but had lost weight and would need “space to recover”. Turnell’s many friends expressed relief at the development – Professor Tim Harcourt said “Sean’s heart was with the people of Myanmar to help lift them about of poverty… He should never have been imprisoned for doing his professional duty as an economist involved in development economics.”

The Aussie was a top adviser to Myanmar’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi when the military seized power in February last year. He was detained within a week of the coup, and although he maintained he was “not guilty of anything”, he was accused by military leader Min Aung Hlaing of trying to flee the country with “secret state financial information”. Fast-forward to September this year, he was sentenced to 3 years in jail for breaching official state secrets acts. Our government has consistently said the treatment of the 58yo Sydneysider has been “unjust”. At the time, Turnell’s wife Ha Vu said his jailing – which could have seen him locked up until February 2024 – was “heartbreaking for me, our daughter, Sean’s 85yo father, and the rest of our family”. Wednesday was the couple’s wedding anniversary, and she posted a message to him on social media: “Every day passes, one day closer to have you back home.” And now that will happen sooner than expected.

Good question. Myanmar has plunged into civil war since the military coup and the resulting crackdown on civilian dissent. Some analysts say the scale of the violence there is second only to the war in Ukraine. More than 2,400 people have been killed by the military since the start of last year and opposition movements – many armed – have emerged across the country. The military has responded with lethal force, including last month’s air strikes on a concert where at least 50 civilians were killed. Southeast Asian countries have been leading the peace efforts, but those in charge aren’t following through on any undertakings. Reports say about 12,000 protestors, officials and political prisoners remain in detention, including Suu Kyi herself, despite yesterday’s prisoner amnesty.

Australian News

Squiz the Rest

MH17 verdict handed down

More than 8 years after Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine and 2.5 years in a Dutch court, a verdict has been delivered on those accused of the mass murder. To recap: the commercial flight left Amsterdam on 17 July 2014 en route to Malaysia. It was travelling over the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed forces were fighting the government for control, when it was hit by what investigators say was a Russian-made missile, downing the plane. All 298 people onboard – including 38 Aussies – were killed. Prosecutors said the 4 men on trial – Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko and Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky and Oleg Pulatov – supplied the missile, but they don’t know who fired it. Despite being absent from the courtroom, the first 3 men named have been sentenced to life in prison for murder and intentionally causing an aircraft to crash, while Pulatov was acquitted. Prosecutors say they can be arrested “as soon as their whereabouts are confirmed”.

World News

Republicans take the House

The result is in… The Republicans won a narrow majority to take control of the US House of Representatives from the Democrats in last week’s midterm elections. It was expected – historically, there’s a big swing against the sitting president’s party in the midterms – but the Republicans failed to secure a “red wave”. In the 435-seat body, the Republicans now have 218 and are expected to gain more as the count is finalised. It means US President Joe Biden’s party no longer has control of the legislation passed to the Democratic-controlled Senate for debate – and House Republicans are also likely to launch investigations into Biden and his administration as they head towards the 2024 elections… That could include the country’s disorganised military withdrawal from Afghanistan, amongst many other issues on their radar. But they’ll have to wait a bit to start any of that – the new regime takes effect in January.

World News

Relief in sight for flood-weary NSW

Another 200 Defence personnel and international emergency workers arrived in NSW’s flood-struck Central West region yesterday as the crisis continues. There are currently 18 flood warnings for the state, many at emergency level. Floodwaters in Forbes peaked below expected record levels yesterday, and Condobolin residents were told to evacuate ahead of predictions of a record peak today. It’s hard to describe the scale and devastation of these floods, but these images paint a picture. There could be some relief with expected weekend downpours across NSW downgraded, but the same can’t be said for further south… Rain is set to hammer Victoria and Tassie this weekend, putting extra pressure on already saturated waterways and catchments. Get used to it, says NSW Emergency Services Commissioner Carlene York… She reckons we’re in for a summer of floods that will echo the 2019-20 summer of bushfires.

Australian News

Unemployment falls to 48-year low

Fewer Aussies are without a job than at any other time since the mid-1970s, as new data shows the unemployment rate has fallen back to 3.4%. Underemployment is also at its lowest since before the 2008 global financial crisis at 5.9%. Experts had predicted an increase for October, but the official data shows that another 32,000 jobs were added to the economy. Having more working people sounds good, but economists say it could encourage the Reserve Bank to lift the rate again pre-Christmas despite hinting it might not raise the rate again next month. Having a job doesn’t mean you’re enjoying it, though – ask Twitter’s workforce… Yesterday, new boss Elon Musk issued an ultimatum to workers: agree to do “extremely hardcore” work or leave. As they say in the classics: go hard, or go home…

Australian News Business & Finance

Microsoft plays around

Playing games virtually was one of the few lockdown highlights, and while we’re now enjoying meeting our mates IRL (which isn’t great for Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse), Microsoft wants us to get back online. The tech giant is promoting a Games for Work app on its Teams platform, which it claims can be used “in moderation” to boost worker productivity and morale. Fancy a game of Minesweeper with your work bestie? Now you can relive the magic in the office or while WFH. And the fun doesn’t end there. Other classics include Solitaire (which is usually a solo endeavour – the hint’s in the name…), and new faves like IceBreakers (a list of get-to-know-you questions like ‘do you prefer pineapple or pepperoni on your pizza?’) are also available. Employers might not be enthusiastic about the new offering – or maybe remember to let your boss win.


Friday Lites – Three things we like this week

If you’re hanging out for Qatar’s soccer World Cup to start on Monday – or if you enjoyed this week’s #SquizShortcut on why it’s been so controversial – Netflix’s new doco series FIFA Uncovered is for you. It explores the true-crime corruption that beleaguers the beautiful game.

This one is hard to describe, and we’re not fishing for clicks – truly. It’s a video of blocks being moved on a sheet of graph paper, and we’ve watched it so many times and can’t work it out. Like these floating ladies, some things in life are just a mystery…

Do you know what we have a hankering for? Savoury pancakes. We made these last year, but don’t get caught up if the jamón slices are hard to source – prosciutto also gets a big thumbs up. And if they don’t tickle your fancy, here are more options.

Friday Lites

Squiz the Day

6.30am (AEDT) – Women’s Rugby League World Cup Round 3 – Australia v New Zealand – England

11.00am – A minute’s silence for Remembrance Day marking the anniversary of the armistice which ended WWI, and in memory of the millions who have died in all wars and armed conflicts

Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen arrives in Egypt for the COP27 summit

Ribit. Start of FrogID Week (until 20 November)

Singles’ Day – China

A birthday for actor Leonardo DiCaprio (1974)

Anniversary of
• Ned Kelly being hanged at Melbourne Gaol (1880)
• the birthday of author Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821)
• the opening of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra (1941)
• the publication of Joseph Heller’s novel Catch-22 (1962)
• PM Gough Whitlam being removed from office by Governor-General Sir John Kerr (1975)

Squiz the Day

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