Squiz Today / 14 March 2023

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 14 March

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Squiz Today Podcast

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Today’s listen time: 9.40 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“No need to be anxious or afraid.”

Said Little Steven Van Zandt from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band after illness forced the rock legends to cancel a performance this week. Given the troupe is getting on a bit in years, it’s nice to be reassured all is (almost) well…

Third times a charm for Xi


President Xi Jinping says protecting China’s national security will be his key priority as he begins a historic 3rd term. To do that, he wants to build the military “into a Great Wall of steel that effectively safeguards national sovereignty, security and development interests,” he said as he closed the National People’s Congress (aks its national parliament) yesterday. Along with a focus on “national rejuvenation and reunification”, Xi added that China “should actively oppose the external forces” that support Taiwan’s independence. 


Xi hasn’t had a change of heart when it comes to Taiwan, which is a democratic/self-ruling island that Beijing views as part of its own territory. That’s where Xi’s ‘reunification’ ambition comes in – he wants to bring it under China’s direct control. And while he says China will “promote peaceful development of cross-strait relations”, he hasn’t ruled out using force to do so. It’s been a source of tension between China, the US/other Western nations, and fears that it could escalate into a full-blown war have everyone – including Oz – on edge. US intelligence says China likely doesn’t want to go to war after seeing the way Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has gone down. “That’s something that President Xi has to weigh as he comes out of Zero COVID, tries to restore Chinese economic growth, tries to engage with the rest of the global economy,” CIA Director William Burns said last week.


Despite those reports, the US and its allies aren’t taking any risks – and that neatly brings us to the AUKUS security pact… Boosting Australia’s military capabilities in the region is designed to help manage China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific. We’re set to hear about those plans from PM Anthony Albanese, President Joe Biden and PM Rishi Sunak at 8am (AEDT) this morning following a meeting of the trio in San Diego. After that, our PM is coming home via Fiji where he’ll speak to Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, who was elected in December. Reports say our officials will embark on a round of talks with our Pacific Island family following today’s subs announcement because it’s not everyday our defence capabilities are supercharged like this… 

World News

Squiz the Rest

The battle for Bakhmut grinds on

Losses are mounting for both sides as Russia’s attempt to capture the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut grinds on. Bakhmut has become the focal point of the war in recent weeks. Despite having limited strategic importance and being mostly destroyed, both Russia and Ukraine have vowed victory in the city. Both sides are also apparently using the Bakhmut battle to wear down the opposing side and boast about the toll the fighting is taking on the other side. Ukraine claimed to have killed 1,100 Russians last week, while Russia claimed 220 Ukrainian deaths in a day. Neither number could be verified. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has awarded military honours to a POW who was killed by Russian soldiers in an apparent war crime. Oleksandr Matsievskyi, who yelled ‘Glory to Ukraine!’ before being killed, was identified after his death was filmed and circulated on messaging platform Telegram.

World News

…or your money back

US President Joe Biden says his administration will do “whatever is needed” to bolster the banking system after the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and New York’s Signature Bank collapsed into receivership in recent days. The US Treasury Department will also step in and promised that all customers would be able to access their money in full after a run on funds last week meant that customers weren’t able to access their accounts. Biden says there will be an investigation to stop the same breakdown from happening again. “There are important questions of how these banks got into this circumstance in the first place,” Biden said overnight. Yesterday, Aussie banks released a statement reiterating their strength, and Treasurer Jim Chalmers said that “our institutions are solid”.

Australian News

That’s a lot of profit

If we asked you to name the company that’s achieved the highest-ever-recorded annual profit by a publicly listed company, we’d reckon Google, Apple or Amazon might be on the list. Nope… the honour goes to Aramco, the Saudi Government-backed oil giant that’s announced it earned US$161 billion ($243 billion) in 2022. That’s a 46.5% rise compared with last year driven by the global energy price spike that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Most of that will go back to the state, which owns 95% of the company’s shares. As for the future, Aramco’s boss Amin Nasser said the last year has demonstrated that “oil and gas will remain essential for the foreseeable future”, and he had a word of warning for investors and governments focusing on renewable energy projects. He says “the risks of underinvestment in our industry are real – including contributing to higher energy prices.” We’re damned if we do, and damned if we don’t… 

Business & Finance World News

We’re so over her…

Drop everything, the Bureau of Meteorology is set to deliver the latest Climate Driver Update today and is expected to declare victory over La Niña. Late last week, America’s official weather experts announced it done, and our people are expected to follow suit. The wet/cool weather pattern has had eastern Australian in its thrawl for the last 3 years, and as anyone who’s experienced the floods, epic rainfall and neverending soggyness would say to her, don’t let the door hit you on the way out… At the end of all that, we’ve got to be in for a nice, regular period of uneventful weather, right? Soz but there is a high probability of extreme heat and dry conditions developing this year and beyond. That’s likely to be in the form of El Niño, but the experts say we’re in for it regardless of what the next weather pattern in the Pacific is. With all the growth that’s come from the rain, the Climate Council has already warned of a “powder-keg” ready to burn when it drys off in hot conditions. Yikes…

Australian News Weather

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ wins everything everywhere at the Oscars

The independently made cast and crew fixed their googly eyes on the prize, and were able to wrap their hot dog fingers around 7 Oscars yesterday, including best picture and best director for ‘the Daniels’. Top acting awards went to the film’s Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis, making it the 3rd film in the Academy Awards’ history to claim that number (no film has won all 4 top performance gongs…). As for best actor, that went to Brendan Fraser for his performance in The Whale – a role that saw him portray a 270kg man. Netflix’s All Quiet on the Western Front came away with 4 trophies, including best international film. By the end of the ceremony, most people had played nice (some exceptions will be discussed further in Apropos…), but it was a long one. “This kind of makes you miss the slapping a little bit, right?” said host Jimmy Kimmel at the midway mark… A complete list of winners is here


Apropos of nothing

Ah Hugh Grant… He has a reputation as a grump to uphold, and he went about that on the champagne-coloured carpet. And he then sought to redeem himself on stage with Four Weddings and a Funeral co-star Andie MacDowell, comparing himself to an intimate part of the male body. Swings and roundabouts… 

If you’re seated up the front at the Oscars, you’re probably a bit important (in those circles, anyway…) and would think you’re going to get a good view of the ceremony. Unless singer and songwriter Temilade Openiyi is seated in front of you… 

Not dressing up for the performance of her nominated best song was Lady Gaga. She ditched a stunning black gown for a t-shirt and jeans for her last minute spot after earlier telling organisers she wouldn’t be singing. 

Entertainment Quirky News

Squiz the Day

ABS Data Release – Monthly Household Spending Indicator, January; Monthly Business Turnover Indicator, January

Pi Day

Birthdays for Michael Caine (1933), Quincy Jones (1933), Billy Crystal (1948), Jamie Bell (1986), Ansel Elgort (1994), and Simone Biles (1997)

Anniversary of:
• Albert Einstein’s birthday (1879)
• the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, following the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (2005)
• Xi Jinping becoming President of the People’s Republic of China (2013)
• US high school students staging a mass walkout to commemorate the Florida high school shooting (2018)
• the deaths of Karl Marx (1883) and Stephen Hawking (2018)

Squiz the Day

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