Squiz Today / 26 August 2022

Squiz Today – Friday, 26 August

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Squiz Today Podcast

Making Friday even better. 

Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“It wasn’t difficult, believe me”

Said Zarko Pejanovic of winning a lying-down competition held annually in Montenegro. He outlasted his rivals after remaining horizontal for 60 hours, which sounds like our usual long weekend plans…

A tale of 3 airlines

Yesterday Qantas, Air New Zealand and Rex Airlines reported their financial results for the 2021-22 financial year, and it’s a similar story of the difficulty operating during the pandemic, ongoing staff shortages, and high fuel prices conspiring to deliver significant losses. Given state border restrictions were fully lifted in March, our international border was reopened in late February, and New Zealand’s border fully opened at the start of this month, there was more red than is produced in the Barossa…

Qantas reported an underlying before-tax loss of $1.86 billion, taking its COVID losses to $7 billion. Air New Zealand’s loss was $648 million. And Rex, which is small but investing in growth, delivered a $46 million loss – its worst result in 16 years. Long story short, all say they can see better times ahead as we shake off the pandemic and start to travel, book holidays and let the good times roll. But there are some significant challenges ahead for the airlines… Fuel prices are expected to be 60% higher this financial year than pre-pandemic levels due to the war in Ukraine driving oil prices higher. And then there are staff shortages that are a real spanner in the propeller… Lost bags, cancelled flights, long security lines – there are ongoing problems that are causing problems for many travellers. Yesterday, Qantas boss Alan Joyce said calls for him to resign over customer complaints were “part of the job”. (Note to self: make sure you accept your thank you gift by the end of September…)

Here’s something from left field – Google has changed how it calculates the climate impact of flights in a way that now appears to have a reduced impact on the environment. That’s because the tech giant has decided to exclude the global warming impacts of flying except for carbon dioxide emissions, reducing the real impact by about half. Climate change campaigners are concerned because they say it could contribute to people making environmentally unfriendly travel decisions. As for Google, it says it is building tools ” that enable travellers and business around the world to prioritise sustainability.” Since 2000, the aviation sector’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 50%, and it’s responsible for around 3.5% of the warming caused by human activity.

Australian News Business & Finance

Squiz the Rest

Biden’s huge debt relief gamble

US President Joe Biden has granted the wishes of 20 million Americans with a single pen stroke by announcing he will wipe out a whopping $433 billion of student debt. That’s ‘billion’ with a ‘b’… The election promise designed to reduce racial and economic inequality will see $14,000 of individual student debt cancelled for those who earn up to $180,000 a year, and $28,000 forgiven for low-income families, most of whom earn less than $43,000 a year. Student debt accounts for the largest amount of consumer debt in the US after mortgages, with a total of 45 million people owing $2.3 trillion in federal loans used to pay for college, far outweighing the amount owed for cars or credit cards. But not everyone feels good about the decision – some economists predict it could further increase inflation.

World News

An about-turn for Japan

Japan’s PM Fumio Kushida has directed his government to look into restarting the country’s suspended nuclear power plants and building new reactors. Speaking at a conference on Japan’s efforts to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, Kushida proposed that “next-generation nuclear reactors equipped with new safety mechanisms” could be used to achieve that goal and extend the lifespan of existing reactors. If such a plan were to go ahead, it would mark a significant shift in Japan’s energy policy after it suspended most of its nuclear plants following the triple meltdown at the Fukushima power plant caused by an earthquake-tsunami double whammy in 2011. Negative public sentiment since then has seen Japan’s dependence on nuclear power reduced, but recent pressure on the country’s power grid due to soaring costs for imported coal and gas in the wake of the Ukraine war has cast a new light on nuclear energy.

World News

Shooting for 7-star homes

Australia’s ministers responsible for the construction sector will meet today to develop a plan to lift the energy efficiency of Aussie homes from 6 to 7 stars. The proposed changes to the National Construction Code are intended to lessen the environmental impact of the residential sector, which currently accounts for about a quarter of electricity use and 12% of greenhouse gas emissions. It’s hoped higher standards will also save residents money on energy bills and provide health, comfort and noise benefits. Energy efficiency advocates are praising the expected changes but caution that new rules must be implemented swiftly and properly enforced. The quality of new-build homes is a problem millions of Aussie tenants wished they had as rents rose at their fastest rate in 14 years over the last 12 months. In response, the Greens are pressuring PM Anthony Albanese to introduce a 2-year emergency rent freeze, a policy last implemented in 1941 in response to wartime inflation. So far, he’s not biting…

Australian News

Taking the edge off

Researchers at Melbourne Uni have discovered that hormonal contraceptives (aka the pill) could reduce a woman’s ambition and competitive drive. The world-first study, which saw 278 women from 21 countries complete a daily questionnaire over 9 months, found those who weren’t taking on it reported an increase in their drive to achieve during ovulation. In contrast, the competitive streak of those on birth control “flattened” over a month – but both groups had the same amount of motivation overall. It’s the first study to examine how contraceptives and motivation are linked and the first to show that a woman’s drive to achieve fluctuates across a menstrual cycle, but the findings are inconclusive. But there could be a win coming for ambitious female golfers – the sport’s governing body in Oz is pushing clubs to scrap ‘ladies’ tees. We’ll still take the easy option, thanks…


Parlez-vous Français?

It is a question most people would say ‘non’ to, even if they studied French at school. It’s often said that when it comes to languages, you have to use it or lose it, but a new University of York study found that’s not necessarily the case. A group of 500 participants who did French at high school between the 1970s and 2020 were asked to complete a vocabulary and grammar test. They found those who took French lessons 50 years ago and had not used the language since performed just as well as recent graduates and those who occasionally used the language. Researchers say that’s because vocabulary is stored in memory similarly to names and dates, which can be forgotten but recalled with a nudge. So if you’ve fallen off the foreign language wagon, it could require less effort than you think to pick it back up again. Très bon!

Quirky News

Friday Lites – Three things we liked this week

If you’re someone who has their phone/laptop/toothbrush almost permanently plugged into a charger, think again… The golden rule (amongst some other great tips): don’t charge it until you’re down to 20% power, which will ensure you get the most out of your lithium battery. So there you go…

If you’re of a certain age, you’ll know the only shirt a bloke needed in Australia in the 80s and 90s was from Country Road. It was chambray with double pockets, golden thread detail and brown buttons. And now it’s back, it’s unisex – and sure, it’s expensive, but it’s all we plan on wearing for the next decade.

All that nostalgia had us thinking about our first foray into Asian flavours as a country kid – which means the Women’s Weekly Chinese Cookbook. Without a doubt, we’re doing their iconic lemon chicken this weekend. And come to think of it, the spring rolls are darn tasty too…

Friday Lites

Do the Squiz Quiz

Reckon you know what afternoon snack Queen Elizabeth has eaten every day since childhood, according to her former private chef? Have a crack at the Squiz Quiz. 

Squiz the Day

Company Results – Wesfarmers; Ramsay Health Care

Women’s Equality Day in the US – marking the anniversary of American women winning the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution (1920)

International Dog Day

Birthdays for Governor-General David Hurley (1953), and actors Macaulay Culkin (1980) and Chris Pine (1980)

Anniversary of:
• Captain James Cook setting sail from England on board HMS Endeavour (1768)
• the birthdays of Mother Teresa (1910) and Katherine Johnson (1918)
• the release of The Beatles’ Hey Jude (1968)

Squiz the Day

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