Squiz Today / 02 June 2023

Squiz Today – Friday, 2 June

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Squiz Today Podcast

Easing you into the weekend.

Today’s listen time: 9.20 minutes

12 / 21
6 / 15
11 / 25
12 / 21
7 / 19
7 / 15
19 / 31
4 / 17

Squiz Sayings

“Mongolian Rhapsody”

Is what Queen frontman Freddie Mercury initially titled the song that would become Bohemian Rhapsody, according to handwritten draft lyrics that are expected to fetch $2.3 million at auction later this year. It doesn’t quite have the same ring to it…

Murder, war criminal, bully

That was the headline the Sydney Morning Herald ran online following the publication’s epic win against Ben Roberts-Smith in the Federal Court yesterday. Along with The Age and the Canberra Times, the Victoria Cross recipient sued the newspapers for defamation following a series of reports he said damaged his reputation because they painted him as a war criminal, a bully towards his colleagues, and a domestic violence abuser. But after 110 days of evidence given by 41 witnesses and almost a year of deliberation, the judge found most of what the media outlets published about the fallen decorated war hero was true. According to legal experts, it increases the likelihood that Roberts-Smith will face criminal charges over his conduct in Afghanistan. And there is a push to strip him of his military honours.

Yesterday, Judge Anthony Besanko said the media outlets had proven that Roberts-Smith murdered 4 unarmed Afghan civilians while deployed with the SAS – our very elite military unit. Specifically, he committed murders and directed soldiers under his command to shoot the men, breaking the moral and legal rules of military engagement. Besanko also found he disgraced his country and the Australian Army by his conduct. But he found the newspapers didn’t establish that Roberts-Smith had committed acts of domestic violence. Roberts-Smith didn’t ‘win’ that one, though – Besanko found the accusations aired by the newspapers did not inflict harm on Roberts-Smith’s reputation, given the severity of his other dastardly deeds. Given the complexities, it’s likely to be the most expensive defamation case in history – reports say it will cost Robert-Smith’s financial backer/boss Kerry Stokes millions.

It’s a huge victory for journalists Nick McKenzie and Chris Masters. Nine’s publishing boss James Chessell said it was also a “critical step towards justice for the families of the murder victims” and vindication for the soldiers who “had the courage to speak the truth about what happened in Afghanistan.” And he said it was a huge day for public interest journalism in Australia – that’s because the media outlets say our defamation laws make it difficult for them to publish difficult stories. As for what’s next for Roberts-Smith – it’s important to note that criminal charges have not been laid against him. Martin Hamilton-Smith from the Australian Special Air Service Association said the case “has no bearing on whether anyone is guilty or not guilty of a war crime.” Roberts-Smith is yet to comment on the verdict, but his billionaire financial backer/boss Kerry Stokes said he was disappointed by the outcome and the verdict “does not accord with the man I know.” Roberts-Smith has a month-and-a-half to appeal.

Confused by what’s what when it comes to defamation? We’ve got you covered with this Squiz Shortcut.

Australian News Crime

Squiz the Rest

Stepping back from a fiscal cliff

Those sounds you could hear yesterday morning were sighs of relief from the US, where the deal to avoid a default on government debt overcame a major hurdle yesterday by passing the US House of Reps. Ultimately, the vote was bipartisan, with 165 Democrats and 149 Republicans banding together to pass the legislation. As expected, a core of hardline Republicans – 71 of ’em – voted against the deal and have begun floating the idea of a leadership spill against chief Republican negotiator, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. But it’s not done yet… The legislation needs to pass the Senate and be signed into law by President Joe Biden. The Senate has until 5 June – Monday – to get it done before the US defaults on its debt, so it’ll be a busy few days for them. The Senate process begins today.

Business & Finance World News

Albanese says ni hao

PM Anthony Albanese arrived in Singapore yesterday for a 4-day whirlwind trip around Southeast Asia. But he’s not escaping the winter blues – he’s there to talk defence, trade and investment in his first official visits to Singapore and Vietnam. On the PM’s agenda are annual bilateral talks with Acting PM Lawrence Wong (because PM Lee Hsien Loong has COVID…), where they will focus on strengthening ties and implementing the landmark Green Economy Agreement signed last October. Tonight, Albanese will give a keynote address to the Shangri-La Dialogue, which is one of the region’s key defence summits. And over the weekend, he’ll be in Vietnam for more talks focusing on boosting trade, education and business ties, with this year marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the 2 countries. There’s no rest for the wicked/top politicians…


BHP vows to pay it back

Mining giant BHP is the latest Aussie company embroiled in a pay scandal after it revealed it underpaid 28,500 current and former employees an estimated $430 million over 13 years. The company said workers’ leave had been incorrectly deducted on public holidays since 2010, and 400 employees were found to have been entitled to additional allowances. BHP’s Australian president Geraldine Slattery told employees the company was “deeply sorry” and would fix the issue ASAP. She said the problems had been reported to the Fair Work Ombudsman, and those affected will be contacted. The Albanese Government is considering implementing hefty fines for these sorts of breaches following a spate of underpayments by Aussie companies in recent years.

Australian News Business & Finance

Taking the U out of UFO

A panel of NASA UFO experts held its first public meeting yesterday, and there were plenty of (not so) spooky stories to go around. One astronaut/former fighter pilot talked about a colleague who was convinced they’d flown past a UFO, only to circle back and see it was a Bart Simpson balloon… And there was an Aussie story from the Parkes radio telescope about bursts of strange energy that went unexplained for over a decade before someone realised that the bursts occurred around lunchtime when the scientists microwaved their food. As it turns out, most UFO sightings are explainable, and only 2-5% are “possibly really anomalous”, according to Sean Kirkpatrick of the fun-sounding All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office. Still, NASA will release a report by the end of July with suggestions on how to make sure future objects can be quickly identified.


And just like that, Samantha’s back

Fans of the iconic noughties TV show Sex and the City had their minds blown yesterday when it was revealed that Kim Cattrall would briefly reprise her role of Samantha Jones in the 2nd season of the spinoff series And Just Like That. It was quite a surprise considering Cattrall and co-star Sarah Jessica Parker’s very public falling out after the former decided against signing on to do a 3rd SATC film, following years of rumours Cattrall didn’t get along with her colleagues. It meant she wasn’t asked to reprise her character in the spinoff – until now… Reports say Cattrall has agreed to make a brief appearance in the season finale, where she will have a phone call with Parker’s character Carrie. According to sources, she shot her dialogue in New York City without seeing any of her co-stars. The new season premieres on Foxtel/Binge on 22 June.


Friday Lites – Three things we liked this week

If you like Succession and you like watches, this is for you. #nospoilers

Jury Duty is a show a mate told us about as we lamented the Succession-sized holes in our lives. And it’s great… Made by some of the team behind the US version of The Office, it’s a look at the legal system through the eyes of juror Ronald Gladden – except he’s unaware that everyone in the courtroom aside from him is an actor. Hilarity ensues… Catch it on Amazon Prime.

It’s June, which means it’s illegal to go out in the evenings. That’s our excuse, anyway… That calls for movie nights and popcorn. And sure, you can grab a microwave bag to get your fix, but we tried this recipe, and it’s so much better. Scroll down for flavour variations – we can endorse sweet ‘n salty.

Friday Lites

Squiz the Day

ABS Data Release – Lending Indicators, April

Fair Work Commission to release latest minimum wage rise decision

Foundation of the Republic Day – Italy

National Gun Violence Awareness Day – US

National Doughnut Day

National Fish and Chip Day – UK

A birthday for Steve Smith (1989)

Anniversary of:
• Alexander Graham Bell making the first sound transmission (1875)
• Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in Westminster Abbey (1953)
• Timothy McVeigh being found guilty of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 (1997)
• the birthdays of William Lawson (1774) and Thomas Hardy (1840)

Squiz the Day

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