Squiz Today / 21 March 2023

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 21 March

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Squiz Today Podcast

It’s your morning news pep talk.

Today’s listen time: 9.40 minutes

SYD
19 / 35
MEL
17 / 28
BNE
23 / 35
ADL
16 / 25
PER
16 / 27
HBA
16 / 21
DRW
25 / 33
CBR
12 / 30

Squiz Sayings

“She was an affable polyglot with excellent Greek.”

Said a Greek lawmaker about the outing of a Russian spy living in Athens under the alias of a multilingual knitting shop proprietor. You could say her fake identity unravelled…

Australian soldier arrested after war crimes probe

THE SQUIZ

Former elite SAS soldier Oliver Schulz has been arrested by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) over the alleged murder of an Afghan civilian in 2012. The 41yo was detained by police near Jindabyne in NSW yesterday, and the AFP have confirmed he will be charged with the war crime of murder. Authorities focused on Schulz after footage was aired on ABC TV’s Four Corners in 2020 showing him shooting an Afghan man in a wheat field while on operations in the Uruzgan Province, and he was later stood down by the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Schulz’s case is notable because it’s the first time a serving or former ADF member has been charged with a war crime under Aussie law.

WHAT LED UP TO THIS?

Schulz’s arrest comes after a 4-year joint investigation by the Office of the Special Investigator (OSI) – the specially-formed body looking into allegations that a small number of Aussie troops committed war crimes in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016 – with help from the AFP, homicide detectives and intelligence officers. That all stemmed from the Brereton Report – the inquiry that looked into whether there were cases that should be investigated after cultural failures within our elite regimes saw a “misplaced focus on prestige, status and power”. The results of that probe were made public back in November 2020, with 143 recommendations made to ADF chief General Angus Campbell. And key among the findings was that up to 25 elite soldiers were involved in the murders of 39 Afghan prisoners and civilians. 

SO WHERE TO FROM HERE?

Schulz – who was once awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for his service in Afghanistan – will remain in custody until a court appearance in May. And if yesterday’s statement from the AFP and OSI is any indicator, Schulz might be just the first of several arrests. The OSI also recently confirmed they’re looking into “between 40 and 50” alleged offences by Aussie soldiers. Meanwhile, Martin Hamilton-Smith, the chairman of veterans group SAS Australia, welcomed the charge as an opportunity to move things on after years of accusations. “These are some of the finest soldiers that ever left our shores. They are good men asked to do extraordinary things for their country and the sooner the truth is established the better,” he said. If he is convicted, Schulz faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. 

Australian News Crime

Squiz the Rest

Reunited and it feels so good…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has touched down in Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and they’ve said nice things about each other to kick things off. Putin told Xi that “China has made a tremendous leap forward in its development … we even envy you a little.” And Xi told Putin: “Russia has made great strides in its prosperous development. I am confident that the Russian people will continue to give you their firm support.” Experts agree that Putin will get “a giant morale boost” out of Xi’s visit, along with a chance to demonstrate a ‘new world order’. “The grim outlook in China is that we are entering this era of confrontation with the US, the gloves are off, and Russia is an asset and a partner in this struggle,” said Alexander Gabuev from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Xi is also slated to have separate talks with Putin and President Volodymyr Zelensky about peace in Ukraine later this week, so watch this space…

Australian News

A big banking deal

In a deal chucked together at warp speed, Credit Suisse has agreed to an emergency takeover by its bigger rival UBS. The Swiss Government has arranged for UBS to pay 3 billion Swiss francs ($4.8 billion) for the under pressure Credit Suisse – well under the bank’s market value of almost $12 billion. But after days of panic in the market about the stability of financial institutions with issues following the collapse of California’s Silicon Valley Bank, the government says it acted to to stave off immediate concerns of a global financial crisis. Also acting are the world’s big central banks – they’ve agreed to maintaining the movement of credit through the global financial system. One expert said it was about ‘liquidity flows’ – a term we would have previously guessed was in relation to personal bathroom issues… Next stop on the Jangled Nerves Express: the US Federal Reserve has an announcement on interest rates mid this week. 

Business & Finance World News

Tough going in our flood zones

Floodwaters in Far North Queensland are starting to recede, but new assessments of the damage show how tough the recovery effort will be. Huge parts of the Gulf of Carpentaria region remain under water making it impossible for some evacuated residents to return. For those who stayed, the flooding and closed roads have made it difficult to deliver supplies to stranded residents. Feeding hungry cattle that survived has become a priority for the Queensland Government, and one estimate says 40-50,000 cattle are missing. Local businesses say there’s been mass cancellations for the upcoming tourist season – the irony is the floods will likely make for epic barramundi fishing… Across the country, the popular Danggu and Bandilngan national parks in Western Australia’s Kimberley will not reopen this year following January’s damaging floods. Tourism operators were hoping for a bumper season after pandemic restrictions were lifted, but that’s not how 2023 is shaping up…

Australian News Weather

Getting ready for a stinking pile of seaweed

The Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt – it’s not the latest fashion accessory or a world fight title… It’s the massive seaweed ‘blob’ said to be twice the width of the continental United States (aka more than 8,000km) that’s headed for Florida and other coastlines in the Gulf of Mexico. Sargassum isn’t all bad – scientists say it’s a ‘moving ecosystem’ that’s crucial for fish and turtles. And even though a small portion of the seaweed will wash up on beaches, when it does the algae rots and releases chemicals that smells like rotten eggs and can cause headaches along with irritating a person’s eyes, nose and throat. Dr Brian Lapointe from Florida Atlantic University says it’s “a catastrophic problem” but most of the seaweed won’t make it to shore. And while this could be the biggest they’ve seen, similar events have happened before… “This is the new normal, and we’re going to have to adapt to it,” said Dr Lapointe. Seaweed salad, anyone? 

Environment & Science

Peppering it up grinds to a stop

First came the salt guy meme, and now a pepper-grinding gesture is taking off – in Japan, at least… There, Japanese-American baseball player Lars Nootbaar has been playing in the World Baseball Classic, and while reports say he wasn’t well recognised a few weeks ago, his unique “grind it out” gesture during play has scored him masses of fans. But as Nootbaar and his pepper-grinding ways have become hugely popular, Japanese high schools have cracked it (pun intended) with students replicating it… The Japan High School Baseball Federation says it wants students to “abstain from unnecessary performances and gestures” and “the fun should come from the game”. The issue’s gone all the way to the top, with Japanese cabinet member Taro Kono posting about it on Twitter. The cool kids will probably take the warnings with a grain of salt…

Quirky News World News

Apropos of nothing

Finland is the world’s happiest country, according to the latest World Happiness Report rankings that’s determined by measures covering healthy life expectancy, economic opportunity, generosity, and freedom to make key life decisions. Australia came in the 12th spot. 

International travel is back, baby – and the fight for best world airport has heated up with Singapore’s Changi regaining the title, after losing to Qatar for 2 years. Melbourne was the top Australian airport in 19th place on the Skytrax list. 

And Adam Sandler has been awarded the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. But the best gags have come from those speaking about his achievements. Producer/director Jude Apatow said he met Sandler when he was starting out and “you knew Adam was going to be a big star – and so did Adam.”

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30pm (AEDT) – Chair of the Carbon Market Institute, Dr Kerry Schott, addresses the National Press Club – Canberra

World Social Work Day

Persian New Year

International Day of the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Harmony Day

World Down Syndrome Day

International Day of Forests

International Colour Day

World Poetry Day

International Astrology Day

Birthdays for Gary Oldman (1958), Matthew Broderick (1962), and Rosie O’Donnell (1962)

Anniversary of:
• the death of Pocahontas (1617)
• Persia officially being renamed Iran (1935)
• the wedding of actors Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall (1945)
• Ethiopia abolishing its monarchy after 3,000 years (1975)
• Russia annexing the Crimean Peninsula (2014)

Squiz the Day

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