Squiz Today / 18 April 2023

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 18 April

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Squiz Today Podcast

Start the day with us in your ear.

Today’s listen time: 9.20 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“Hell, yes, I’ll marry you.”

Said Ann DeHovitz when her now husband Ross proposed via a front page ad in the New York Times in 1989. Their love story – and his love of the newspaper – was in focus last week when the couple visited the company’s museum. Ah, the romance of the archives…

Aussies swindled by sharp scammers


The Australian consumer watchdog says that Aussies reported losing more than $3.1 billion – averaging $20,000 per victim – to scammers last year. The true figure could be much higher than that because it’s thought about 30% of victims don’t report their loss to anyone, and just 13% notify the regulator via Scamwatch. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)’s annual Targeting Scams paper includes an analysis of 500,000 scam reports lodged in 2022 – it found the total amount lost last year was up 80% on 2021. ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe says that’s because scammers’ tactics are becoming “increasingly sophisticated” and fast-moving. “We have seen alarming new tactics emerge which make scams incredibly difficult to detect,” she said yesterday. 


Indeed… To break down the stats: investment scams ($1.5 billion) were the biggest contributor to last year’s total, followed by remote access scams ($229 million) and payment redirection scams ($224 million). The ACCC says scammers turned their focus toward vulnerable Aussies in 2022, with a record number of scams being made against people with a disability (who reported financial losses of $33.7 million). Indigenous people (with losses of $5.1 million) and people from culturally/linguistically diverse communities (with losses of $56 million) were also in scammers’ sights. But the ACCC points to major data breaches (hello, Optus and Medibank…) for making millions of Aussies across all ages and backgrounds more susceptible to scams. Lowe says Scamwatch received heaps of reports after last year’s cyber attacks, “including reports of scammers impersonating government departments and businesses to carry out identity theft and remote access scams”.


That’s the big question – particularly when there are estimates that Aussies will be scammed out of $4 billion this year. Lowe says it’s clear “a coordinated response across government, law enforcement and the private sector is essential to combat scams more effectively”. In that vein, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Signals Directorate (the body tasked with defending Oz from global threats, including international cybercrime) have been working on a new cybersecurity strategy. The ACCC is also establishing a national anti-scams centre to fight fraud. While the experts work on that, there’s lots of advice to help individuals avoid being scammed… Telstra cyber security expert Darren Pauli says you should never click on links you’re unsure about; always check messages’ spelling and grammar if you think it could be legit; and avoid banking/online shopping when you’re connected to public wi-fi. Words to live by… 

Australian News Crime

Squiz the Rest

Sudan crisis intensifies

Sudan could be facing its worst-case scenario 4 years after popular protests gave rise to the prospect of a peaceful transition from a dictatorship to a democracy. Instead, fighting continues for the 3rd day in the capital city of Khartoum, and reports say many Sudanese are worried about tensions turning into a bloody civil war. If you’ve missed this story so far, the need-to-know is that 2 army generals – General al-Burhan of Sudan’s military and Lieutenant General Hamdan of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary – took up arms on Saturday for control of the country. The fighting intensified on Sunday with army fighter jets striking RSF positions with both generals blaming the other for the conflict. Complicating matters internationally, RSF fighters appear to have captured more than 30 Egyptian soldiers and war planes. Media are reporting at least 97 civilians killed, and more than a thousand injured in the fighting so far.

World News

Looking into Lehrmann’s Canberra trial

Bruce Lehrmann is back in the news, and you’d be forgiven if you haven’t kept up with what legal process it relates to this time… The latest investigation stems from the ACT’s Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold’s claims that police applied “inappropriate interference” in the case over an alleged attack on former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins. The criminal trial was ultimately skuttled after juror misconduct and Higgins’ mental health concerns over facing new proceedings. Now, the ACT Government is trying to figure out if the police and the prosecutor did their jobs correctly. Drumgold alleges that police pressured him not to prosecute Lehrmann, and so far the inquiry has heard that the police-prosecutor relationship was always “beset by tension”. Yesterday was day one of the inquiry and it has some way to go before a report is to be finalised in June.

Australian News Crime

Making math skills great again

If you’ve dined out on how terrible you are at maths (our hand is up…), the UK’s PM Rishi Sunak has a message for you… He says numeracy is “every bit as essential as reading” and a poor understanding of maths should not be “socially acceptable”. In order to address the problem, he’s announced the creation of an advisory group tasked with determining the best way to ensure all pupils in England study maths up to age 18yo and dismantle the nation’s “anti-maths mindset”. It’s an issue the PM holds close to his heart as a guy who reports say devises his own spreadsheets for use in government. And as a former investment banker that’s made him a wealthy man, he says he wants to ensure that poor numeracy skills don’t continue to leave people twice as likely to be unemployed as those with competent numeracy. The UK was ranked 18th in the world for maths attainment in 2019. We’re not meaning to brag, but Australia was in the top 10… 

World News

A day of running and reflection

Families of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing have marked the 10th anniversary of the tragedy by laying wreaths at memorial sites near the finish line. The bombing killed 3 people and injured more than 260 others, and 2 police officers died as a result of pursuing the perpetrators, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Jennifer Black from Ohio was one whose race was cut short – she attended the weekend’s commemoration event and said she returned to the city because “we have to look out for each other, and we have to pray for these families every day.” As for the race itself, it’s taken place overnight: Hellen Obiri won the women’s race, and Evans Chebet took it out for the men. Ahead of the big event, those brave enough got a chance to test if they could keep up with the men’s world record holder, Eliud Kipchoge. Hilarity ensued… 

Crime World News

Sing, my angel, sing!

The chandelier crashed to the stage for the last time as The Phantom of the Opera ended its record 35-year run on Broadway. After 13,981 performances to over 20 million audience members and grossing US$1.36 billion, the musical ended its Broadway show with a glamorous final performance. Composer Andrew Lloyd Weber was there, as were a bazillion celebrities and acting alumni from the show’s decades on the stage. The final performance was frequently interrupted by applause, and not just for the actors: favourite props like the monkey music box or the famous chandelier also got their own send-offs by the appreciative crowd. After a COVID shut-down, Phantom sometimes struggled to break even on its approximately US$1 million weekly running costs, and the decision was made to call curtains on the production. But the show’s producer Cameron Mackintosh isn’t counting out an encore: “Of course it will return,” he said. “All the great musicals do.”


Apropos of nothing

Back in 2018, a Harvard doctoral student named Andres Ardisson Korat presented his research on the relationship between dairy foods and chronic disease – problem was it showed half a cup of ice cream is good for diabetics. It was a finding the experts hoped would go away, an insider says… 

If you needed evidence that cost of living pressures are biting, a new report says fine-dining restaurants across Oz are down 28% in bookings as pubs and cafes thrive. Just as long as they aren’t using plastic cheese in their chicken parma… 

But when you are out somewhere nice, don’t be surprised if you’re hit with a nostalgic menu… We’re talking vol-au-vents, quiche, stroganoff, and baked camembert making today feel like the 70s. Just go with it…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30pm (AEDT) – Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme/Government Services Bill Shorten addresses the National Press Club – Canberra

Independence Day – Zimbabwe

International Day for Monuments and Sites

International Jugglers Day

Birthdays for James Woods (1947), Conan O’Brien (1963), David Tennant (1971), and Kourtney Kardashian (1979)

Anniversary of:
• the publication of the world’s first crossword puzzle book, by Simon & Schuster (1924)
• the death of Albert Einstein (1955)
• the marriage of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco (1956)
• Wham becoming the first western pop act to release an album in China (1985)

Squiz the Day

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