Squiz Today / 25 August 2023

Squiz Today – Friday, 25 August

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Squiz Today Podcast

Making Friday even better. 

Today’s listen time: 9.30 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“This immersive series… taps into listeners’ imagination and offers parents an engaging, screen-free experience to share with their children”

Is the description of a new podcast series that expands on the mega-popular Frozen franchise. Parents will be horrified/delighted to learn that the 12-part series is an original story that’s set after the events of Frozen 2. Disney just couldn’t Let it Go

Questions abound over Prigozhin’s death…

We left you yesterday with the breaking news that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Russian mercenary group Wagner who led the mutiny against Moscow 2 months ago, was likely dead. Officials say 7 passengers and 3 crew were onboard a private jet when it went down in the Tver region north of Moscow – 8 of the 10 bodies have been located, and an investigation into the crash has commenced. There are claims the plane was shot down by the Russian military, and given Prigozhin was behind the biggest-ever challenge to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s power, speculation is swirling… Overnight, Putin spoke on Russian TV, sending his condolences to the crash victims’ families. “I knew Prigozhin for a long time, from the early 1990s. He had a difficult path and made serious mistakes in his life. But he got results – for himself, and when I asked him.”

Russia’s civil aviation agency says Prigozhin’s name was on the plane’s passenger list. But Russian-born/US-based think tank founder Dmitri Alperovitch says “as with everything in Russia, you can’t be certain of anything, and everything is clear as mud”. Prigozhin was a wanted man… He gained international notoriety for leading Russia’s private militia force in Ukraine and in conflicts in places like Syria and hot spots in Africa. Some believe he’s faked his own death in order to flee, while others say he was “a dead man walking” from the time Putin labelled his failed mutiny “a stab in the back”. The 62yo was once a close ally of Putin, but, you know, an attempted coup can strain even the closest of friendships…

It’s early days, but analysts reckon if Prigozhin’s death is real, internal tensions could flare. Reports say that’s because some Russian troops agreed with Prigozhin’s criticisms of the war in Ukraine and the performance of the country’s military commanders. On the same day as the crash, reports emerged that Russian Air Force boss/Wagner supporter Sergei Surovikin – who hasn’t been seen since June’s mutiny – has been fired by Moscow. One who thinks the action will silence Putin’s critics is former US intelligence officer Angela Stent – she says it means less internal criticism of the war. As for Prigozhin’s legacy, expert Candace Rondeaux says he leaves behind “enormous amounts of death and destruction” and that “in a way, perhaps it’s a moment of closure and justice for those who have suffered at his hands”.

World News

Squiz the Rest

Crystal-balling an expensive future

Picture this: it’s 2063, the Rolling Stones have just celebrated the band’s 100th anniversary, and Australia’s population has reached 40.5 million people… Yesterday, Treasurer Jim Chalmers released the Intergenerational Report predicting what the world could look like (sans what’s in Mick Jagger’s future…) if we continue current policy settings. Long story short, our ageing population’s need for care/support, the integration of technology, climate change, and risky geopolitical environment will “change how Australians live, work, and engage with the world,” he says. And yes, our economy will be 2.5 times bigger, but after last financial year’s surplus, we’re expected to run deficit budgets for all those 40 years. You read that right… It doesn’t have to be this way – this report informs policymakers about what course corrections should be made. Game on…

AusPol Economy

The elephant that wasn’t in the room…

Former US President Donald Trump may have skipped the first Republican debate yesterday… As his chat with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson streamed on Twitter/X racked up more than 230 million views, 8 other candidates for the Republican nomination to run for president in 2024 jostled for the spotlight. And despite being among political veterans like former VP Mike Pence and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy stole the show with some crowd-rousing lines, including that Trump was “the best president of the 21st century”. Trump remains the clear frontrunner even though 4 sets of criminal charges have been made against him. Just on that, Trump is set to hand himself into Georgia authorities this morning – a procedural requirement linked to the state’s case against him over his actions to overturn the 2020 election result that favoured Democrat Joe Biden. Stand by for a mug shot…

World News

Ocean fears at Fukushima

Japan has started releasing treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant yesterday, even though there’s been fierce opposition from some of its neighbours. The facility north of Tokyo was destroyed by a tsunami/earthquake in 2011, and since then, more than a million tonnes of water has been pumped in to stop the nuclear reactors from overheating. The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog has approved the plan to release the water over 30 years – saying it will have a “negligible” impact on the environment. However, China and some Pacific nations don’t agree… They’re worried the water still contains dangerous levels of radioactive materials, and Beijing has now banned all seafood imports from Japan. The impact of the 2011 disaster that wiped out many villages and forced 150,000 people who lived near Fukushima to move away from their homes continues to be felt in Japan.

World News

Market ups and downs

The Flying Kangaroo has soared to profitability after the airline posted a $1.7 billion profit for the 2022-23 financial year. It’s Qantas boss Alan Joyce’s last report to the market before handing over the reins to CFO Vanessa Hudson in November, and he didn’t waste the opportunity to hail the “substantial turnaround” after the business posted an $860 million loss a year ago. He says it’s thanks to “incredibly robust” travel demand, which has seen international airfares jump 10% on pre-pandemic levels. It’s not the last we’ll see of him – Joyce will be grilled on air travel prices when he fronts a Senate cost of living inquiry on Monday. On the flipside, Nine Entertainment posted a 38% drop in net annual profit to $195 million, led by a $85 million writedown of the value of its radio licenses and other assets. Aussie media companies didn’t feel the love last financial year – declining ad revenue took the energy out of the bounce out of COVID.

Wondering what company reporting season is and why it matters? There’s a Squiz Shortcut for that.

Australian News Business & Finance

Kicking off your heels

Lovers of comfy footwear, rejoice. Data shows that there’s been a significant decrease in the popularity of high heels – even brides are opting out… It might have been unfathomable a couple of decades ago (or even 8 years ago…) when heels were the go in offices, but market researcher NPD Group says sales dropped 65% in 2020 as we embarked on the WFH adventure – and shoppers didn’t step back in after that. Psychologist/fashion consultant Carolyn Mair said that on top of the dramatically different work environment we find ourselves in, there’s also been significant cultural change. That’s seen the rejection of “rigidly defined femininity that associates high heels with the primary marker of femininity”. As Weird Barbie can attest, Birkenstocks will help you find the truth of the universe


Friday Lites – Three things we liked this week

The Untold series on Netflix is outstanding – it features deep background on some notable sporting moments – like Australia’s win of the America’s Cup, and there’s one about the bloke that The Sopranos is based on buying his 17yo son a pro hockey team. Now, there’s a new look at a high-profile doping scandal in the early 2000s – well worth a look if you have a spare hour.

We told you about the New York Times‘ Mini a few weeks ago – a small crossword for non-crossword people like us. And now they’ve launched Connections, which some people say is a UK TV game show rip-off. Whatever it is, it’s stretching our brain…

We haven’t had Indian flavours for a while, and we’re craving this chicken biryani. We’ve made it many times over the years and it always delivers. Chicken, rice, yoghurt = delicious. And it’s great for leftovers.

Friday Lites

Squiz the Day

11.00am (AEST) – State Funeral for former Queensland Premier and Treasurer Michael John Ahern

6.00pm (AEST) – Men’s Basketball – FIBA World Cup – Australia v Finland – Okinawa, Japan

Uruguay’s National Day

Australian South Sea Islander National Recognition Day

Company Results – Ardent Leisure Group; Wesfarmers

Wear it Purple Day

Birthdays for Gene Simmons (1949), Martin Amis (1949), Tim Burton (1958), Billy Ray Cyrus (1961), Alexander Skarsgård (1976), and Blake Lively (1987)

Anniversary of:
• Englishwoman Alicia Thornton becoming the first female jockey (1804)
• the birthday of the best Bond (fight us…) Sean Connery (1930)
• the liberation of Paris by Allied forces after four years of Nazi occupation (1944)
• the release of the first package of pre-cooked instant noodles by Momofuku Ando (1958)
• the Voyager 1, which was launched in 1977, becoming the first spacecraft to enter interstellar space (2012)
• the deaths of Friedrich Nietzsche (1900), Truman Capote (1984), Neil Armstrong (2012) and John McCain (2018)

Squiz the Day

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