Squiz Today / 09 August 2022

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 9 August

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Squiz Today Podcast

Good days start here. 

Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“There is no expectation that you will opt into this role on top of your full-time position.”

Is what Qantas HQ has said to its office-bound managers about plugging workforce holes in its ground handling operations over the coming 3 months. If it came down to being indoors or driving a baggage trolley around the tarmac for a bit, we know what we’d choose… 

Hekmatullah living in luxury

A former Afghan fighter serving with government forces who killed 3 unarmed Australian soldiers in August 2012 is living as a free man in Kabul, according to The Guardian. Hekmatullah has returned to the nation’s capital and is living in a luxury home after being treated as a “returning hero” by the Taliban. He also told an official from the former Afghan Government that he would “continue killing foreigners”, including Australians, if he was released, the report says.

It was a couple of years ago, but there was a flurry of reporting when the US and Taliban were negotiating a peace deal. One of the Taliban’s conditions was the release of 5,000 Afghan prisoners – including 6 truly terrible terrorists, including Hakmatullah. In short, he was a sergeant in the Afghan National Army when he murdered Lance Corporal Stjepan ‘Rick’ Milosevic, Sapper James Martin, and Private Robert Poate and injured two other Australians while playing cards inside their Tarin Kowt base in Uruzgan province. He fled but was captured in Quetta, Pakistan, in 2013. Hekmatullah confessed to the killings – and vowed to do the same again if given a chance. He was convicted by the Afghan Supreme Court and handed a death sentence but avoided execution for more than 6 years. And in the wheeling and dealing, he was sent to Qatar and released last year – moves fiercely opposed by Australia.

A bit is going on with the new government following America’s assassination of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul a week ago, which has heightened Taliban security fears. All that’s playing out as the anniversary of the fall of Kabul comes around next week. As for a reaction to the report that Hekmatullah is living his best life, the Australian Government hasn’t commented. It was 2 years ago that the families of the murdered Australian soldiers said news of Hekmatullah’s release was devastating. “Hekmatullah should have been executed – as was his sentence from the highest court of­ ­Afghanistan – not released,” they said at the time.

World News

Squiz the Rest

Vale Olivia Newton-John

In breaking news this morning, the iconic British-born/Aussie-raised singer/actress died on Monday at her home in California, aged 73yo. A philanthropist, activist and entrepreneur, the woman known as ONJ blasted onto the international music scene in the 1970s with 2 #1 albums, 5 #1 hits, and 4 Grammys. ​​With global sales of more than 100 million records, she was one of the best-selling music artists of the last 50 years. On the screen, she is probably best known for her turn as Sandy Olsson in Grease – a movie from 1978 where she shared the lead with John Travolta. Newton-John was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, and her family said she was “a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years” as she fought the disease. “Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund,” her family said in a statement this morning. There’s much more to say about this incredible woman, and we’ll do that tomorrow.


Backing a boost to aged care

The Albanese Government didn’t nominate a price, but in its submission to the Fair Work Commission it’s promised to foot the bill for a potential pay rise for about 200,000 aged care workers. Following up on an election promise to back higher wages for the sector, the government’s submission says rates should be “significantly higher”. How much higher? Well, the unions are asking for a 25% bump, saying aged care workers have been consistently undervalued. The government backs that argument saying the work they do – “broadly describable as social and emotional and interpersonal skills” – has not been recognised in previous wage deals. Aged care employers say thumbs up to a government-funded pay rise, but they aren’t onboard with one that high. As for Coalition leader Peter Dutton, he supports a pay rise for workers – how much is a matter for the Commission. 

AusPol Australian News

A new parliament in PNG

Papua New Guinea’s incumbent PM James Marape says he has the numbers to form a coalition government after an election process marred by delays, allegations of voter fraud and violence. With the votes still being counted, Marape’s Pangu Party has won 30 out of the parliament’s 111 seats, which he says delivers him an “overwhelming mandate to form government” with the support of 15 minor parties. It’s not done and dusted yet – former PM Peter O’Neill headed to court to stop Marape from taking government until the counting is finalised. If things go as planned today, the nation’s first female MP in a decade will be there. Economist Rufina Peter is set to become the nation’s 8th female parliamentarian. Kessy Sawang – a former PNG Treasury official and deputy customs commissioner – could become the 9th if the final part of the count goes her way.

World News

US Senate passes landmark spending bill

In a major win for US President Joe Biden, the US Senate passed a massive US$740 billion climate, health care and tax package yesterday. That’s billion with a ‘b’… The Inflation Reduction Act was the centrepiece of Biden’s election campaign to bring financial relief to Americans, including measures to combat climate change and lower healthcare costs. It will also target corporations with tax hikes on billion-dollar companies and crackdowns on tax cheats – expected to raise enough funds to cover the spending and raise an extra $300 billion over the next decade. The bill was initially slated to cost $3.5 trillion and stalled after a year of political infighting amongst Biden’s Democrats. But it passed the Senate 51-50 yesterday and is set to pass the House of Representatives later this week. Considering Biden’s low approval rates, soaring inflation, and the upcoming November midterm elections, it’s welcome news for those in power. 

World News

Commonwealth Games wrap up

Australia has finished top of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games medal tally with 178. That breaks down to 67 gold, 57 silver and 54 bronze – c’mon Aussie… We pipped out England on 176 medals (57 gold) and Canada with 92 (26 gold). Finishing off a triumphant outing was the Kookaburras – our men’s hockey team won gold against India with a dominant 7-0 performance overnight. That means the team has taken Commonwealth Games gold 7 straight times. The Diamonds were also on the winners’ list yesterday, taking out the netball against Jamaica 55-51. That racked up Australia’s 1,000th gold medal at the Comm Games level. The closing ceremony will feature Melissa Wu as Australia’s flagbearer – she’s 30yo, she’s been to 5 Commonwealth Games, and she won gold in the 10m women’s synchronised dive alongside 14-year-old Charli Petrov in Birmingham. Congrats, one and all…


Apropos of Nothing

Fashion designer Rosie Assoulin has done what fashion designers do these days – she’s ‘pivoting’ into new areas. For her, it’s a bridal collection with prices starting at US$795 for a bucket hat and designs including bridal cargo pants. And good luck to her and her clientele…

Canadian dad Daniel Hashimoto is teaching his kids to love using a flamethrower – in a kid-friendly way. Using a converted leaf blower and orange fabric, he wants to “inspire creativity for the kids.” Elon Musk, move over

American actor Woody Harrelson – not only does he look like a baby, but he’s a poet to boot. And may your celebrity doppelgänger be as generous as him…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30pm (AEST) – Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry & Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt addresses the National Press Club – Canberra

Singapore’s National Day

ABS Data Release – Monthly Household Spending, June; Monthly Business Turnover, June

Company Results – News Corp; REA Group; Evolution Mining

Westpac and Melbourne Institute release their monthly consumer confidence index for August

Book Lovers Day

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Birthdays for tennis player Rod Laver (1938), designer Michael Kors (1959), former Kiwi PM John Key (1961), actors Gillian Anderson (1968), Eric Bana (1968), and Anna Kendrick (1985)

Anniversary of:
• the opening of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican (1483)
•the publication of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden (1854)
• the US dropping a 2nd atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan (1945)
• the Manson family committing the Tate-LaBianca murders (1969)
• the resignation of US President Richard Nixon (1974)

Squiz the Day

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