Squiz Today / 20 March 2023

Squiz Today – Monday, 20 March

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Squiz Today Podcast

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Today’s listen time: 10 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“He just would start talking and it was like a stream of consciousness.”

Said outgoing Aussie Ambassador to the US Arthur Sinodinos of his “hardest to handle” dinner guest, former UK Boris Johnson. Speaking of good talkers, Sinodinos vacates the role this week as former PM Kevin Rudd goes to Washington…

Trump pencils in his arrest

Former US President Donald Trump says “illegal leaks” from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office suggest he will be arrested on Tuesday – something that authorities haven’t confirmed or rejected. Trump posted the update to followers on his ‘Truth’ social media platform yesterday but didn’t say what the charges are that he expects to be laid… Reports say they’re likely to do with a years-long criminal investigation into hush money Trump allegedly paid to 2 women who claimed they had ‘encounters’ with him. And given Trump’s a 2024 presidential candidate hopeful, it could mean yuge problems for his campaign…

Yup – there’s been a long series of events leading up to this point. You might remember the name Stormy Daniels – she’s the adult film star who made the hush money claims back when Trump was in office. Daniels and another woman say they were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep quiet about their alleged affairs with Trump, which he’s denied… It’s legally problematic for Trump because the payoffs are said to have happened in the lead-up to the 2016 election. As a candidate, Trump was only allowed to receive up to $2,700 from any individual, and he wasn’t allowed to take money from corporations. But reports say Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen funded Daniels’ payment of US$130,000 and organised for a US tabloid – a corporation – to pay the other woman off under the promise of repayment. Cohen was jailed for his part in it, and whether Trump also committed campaign finance violations in the eyes of the law is also being looked at. 

Last week, Cohen appeared in front of a Manhattan grand jury (which is what prosecutors convene to determine whether there is enough evidence to make a case) – it’s considering charges against Trump. He says he’s “absolutely” prepared to testify against his former client if the case goes to trial. And in what reports say is a sign that prosecutors are getting closer to laying formal charges, Trump was invited to testify in front of the grand jury last week but didn’t take to the stand. If it goes ahead, Trump would be the first former US president to be indicted. For his part, he’s labelled the investigation a “witch hunt” and has urged his followers to protest and “take our nation back”, and senior Republicans, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, have called it politically motivated and “an outrageous abuse of power”. But Democrats say no one is above the law.

World News

Squiz the Rest

An arrest warrant for Putin

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for the illegal deportation of hundreds of children from Ukraine in a move the Kremlin has described as “outrageous and unacceptable”. Putin shook it off with a visit to Crimea to mark the 9th anniversary of its annexation on Saturday. And yesterday, he went to Mariupol in what’s believed to be his first trip to a newly-occupied Ukrainian territory. The city’s exiled mayor Vadym Boychenko said Putin was a “criminal” who had “returned to the scene of the crime”. Those trips have been described as an act of defiance after that arrest warrant was issued… And Putin’s got a busy week ahead with a high-profile visitor expected to arrive on Wednesday… Chinese President Xi Jinping will be in town to talk about the nations’ “comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation”. Peace in Ukraine is also on the agenda after China put its hand up last month to help broker a settlement.

World News

A Swiss roll towards UBS

We’re just a week into the banking crisis that has sent shockwaves across global markets, and we start this week with wheeling and dealing over troubled Swiss giant Credit Suisse. It’s in takeover talks with the nation’s largest bank UBS, and while these deals are complicated at the best of times, regulators from the US, Britain and Switzerland are all pouring over the details. And reports say UBS will ask the Swiss Government to cover about US$6 billion in restructuring and legal costs – but analysts say stabilising the system would be worth the price. So what’s this got to do with the collapse of California’s Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and resulting jitters over other regional banks in the US? It’s all about the vibe… Credit Suisse has had plenty of problems recently, and while there was no direct trigger last week, SVB’s decline had investors take a second look. In this, the finance industry is a bit like disco dancing – it all falls apart when there’s a confidence void…

Business & Finance

Knocking heads on support for former footy players

Two high-profile former football players have spoken out about their brain injuries following celebrated careers in their respective codes. Yesterday, legendary Geelong full-forward Gary Ablett Sr said a recent scan showed his 8-10 severe concussions and plenty of head knocks before his retirement in 1996 have left him with “significant structural and functional brain damage”. Since 2010, he says he has suffered from a debilitating range of conditions, including severe depression. And former top rugby league player Mark Carroll also came forward (paywall) with his recent diagnosis of probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) “not for sympathy, not for myself, but for the other former footballers, who I know are suffering in ­silence.” While the codes are stepping up concussion protocols for those in the game today, Ablett and Carroll are the latest advocates for more support for former players, as campaigners call in the top leagues and government to fund players’ brain scans.


SUVs crash the top sales list

If you feel like there are many more big cars on the road, you’d be right… Data collected by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) shows that 53% of all new vehicles sold in Oz last year were SUVs – aka the ‘sports utility vehicle’ that helps drivers who like tackling off-road-driving and the school dropoff with the same level of confidence… That share has almost doubled over the past decade. Tony Weber from the FCAI says SUVs are great because they can take you from the shopping mall carpark to towing a boat, but safety experts point to higher risks to pedestrians and other drivers. But SUVs aren’t the only big new vehicles on our roads in significant numbers – 4WDs and light commercial vehicles (including utes) have also dominated. In fact, the highest-selling model in 2022 was the Toyota Hilux. We’re a long way from 10 years ago when the top-selling vehicle was the Toyota Corolla…

Australian News

A journey through the Eras

Swifties who forked out megabucks for tickets to music megastar Taylor Swift’s first live tour in 5 years have had their Wildest Dreams heard with a 44-song set… Swift kicked off her ‘Eras’ tour in Glendale, Arizona – ceremonially renamed ‘Swift City’ – over the weekend, to glowing reviews from the 70,000-strong audience and critics alike. The show was billed as a tour through Swift’s prolific discography, and there was next to no Blank Space(s) as she made endless outfit and set changes between each musical ‘era’ during the +3-hour show. And those who weren’t at the venue were still treated to video snippets online, including one moment where Swift ‘dives’ below the stage between songs and her mum bopping to Look What You Made Me Do. After all that, the only thing Swifties waiting on Aussie tour dates will be asking is Are You Ready For It?


Apropos of nothing

Fallon Sherrock has become the first woman to hit a 9-dart finish at a PDC event. To unpack that sentence… Fallon = a 28yo English darts pro. A 9-dart finish = a perfect game where a player must reach the target total exactly and hit a double scoring area with their last throw. A PDC event = the world’s premier comp dominated by blokes. What a legend…

If you associate dahlias with old-fashioned floral pursuits, you’re sooo out of date… The pretty relative of the sunflower and daisy is a social media hit because of their “geometric perfection”, and now florists and backyard growers are scrambling to keep up with demand.

A 10kg “beady-eyed, orange-toothed, rat-tailed rodent” doesn’t sound like our idea of the perfect pet, but a Louisiana couple has fought and beaten state officials to legally keep Neuty the Nutria in their New Orleans home. If you want a look at him, here he is celebrating Mardi Gras in a jaunty hat…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30pm (AEDT) – Former US Navy secretary Richard Spencer addresses the National Press Club – Canberra

Both houses of federal parliament sit for the next 2 weeks – Canberra

Australian Domestic Gas Outlook 2023 meeting starts – Sydney (until 23 March)

Australian Information Security Association Cyber Conference begins – Canberra (until 22 March)

Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees’ Conference 2023 begins – Melbourne (until 22 March)

International Day of Happiness

International Francophonie Day

French Language Day

World Oral Health Day

World Storytelling Day

Start of Harmony Week (until 26 February)

Birthdays for David Malouf (1934), Spike Lee (1957), Holly Hunter (1958), and David Thewlis (1963)

Anniversary of:
• the founding of KFC (1930)
• the marriage of John Lennon and Yoko Ono (1969), and David and Angie Bowie (1970)
• Oz closing the international border amid the COVID-19 pandemic (2020)
• the deaths of Malcolm Fraser (2015) and Kenny Rogers (2020)

Squiz the Day

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