Squiz Today / 12 January 2023

Squiz Today – Thursday, 12 January

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Squiz Today Podcast

Locking down your ‘good to go’ stage of the morning. 

Today’s listen time: 9.30 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“2023 will be a year that’ll be full for lessons for me”.

Tweeted 4-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka while announcing a “little life update” that she is pregnant with her first child. The 25yo says she’s looking forward to returning to the court in Oz in 2024. Dealing with a lot of racquet is good training for a new mum…

A complicated goodbye to Cardinal George Pell

Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic, has died in Italy at 81yo. Melbourne’s Archbishop Peter Comensoli yesterday confirmed the news, saying Pell died from “heart complications following hip surgery” less than a week after he attended the funeral of former Pope Benedict XVI in Rome. Put simply, Pell was a polarising figure as the leader of the church that counts 20% of Australians as followers. 

Where do you start? Yesterday, Pell was remembered by senior Catholics as Australia’s most prominent ever churchman following his rise in 2014 to become the 3rd highest-ranking official in the Vatican as its treasurer under Pope Francis. That came to an end when he became the most senior Catholic in the world to be charged (in 2017) and convicted (in 2018) on historical child abuse offences. Pell always maintained his innocence, and in April 2020, the High Court unanimously overturned his conviction. Later that year, Pell returned to Rome, where he spent his remaining years. Going back to the start, Pell was born in Ballarat, Victoria and was a talented Aussie Rules football player who had an opportunity to play at the top level. To cover off the big points on his CV, Pell was also Archbishop of both Melbourne and Sydney and was selected by Pope John Paul II to join the College of Cardinals (the small group that advises the Pope) in 2003. 

For now, a lot of people have a lot to say about Pell, his life, and his legacy. PM Anthony Albanese (a non-practising Catholic) passed on the government’s condolences to those who knew Pell well. And former PM/former trainee Catholic priest Tony Abbott praised Pell as “a saint for our times”. Others, like the Australian Catholic University’s Miles Pattenden, said while Pell had many admirers, others would “wish that he’d been called to account in a fuller way for some of his decisions” when he was an Archbishop in Oz. Meanwhile, lawyers who have gone up against the Catholic Church in recent times were more blunt… Michael Magazanik said he was troubled by the “outpouring of love for a man who at the very least turned a blind eye to massive child abuse”. As for the coming days, reports say services will be held for Pell in Rome and at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, where he will be buried

Australian News

Squiz the Rest

Inflation that just won’t quit

Australia’s inflation rate returned to a 32-year high, with the Bureau of Statistics’ latest consumer price index (CPI) rising 7.3% over the year to November. That’s up from 6.9% in October, driven by price hikes across the year on housing (9.6%), food (9.4%), fuel (16.6%), and travel (12.8%). Despite relentless cost of living pressures, retail sales increased for an 11th consecutive record month thanks to Black Friday sales, according to the ABS. The Reserve Bank has forecast that inflation will hit a peak of 8% in December, and economists say the latest figures mean it’s likely the central bank will continue to lift interest rates this year. Following yesterday’s warning from the World Bank that the global economy was “perilously close” to a recession, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said Aussies should be “optimistic” while remaining “realistic” about the future of the nation’s economy. Which is also how we feel about our new year fitness campaign… 

Australian News Business & Finance

UN to investigate executions in Iran

The United Nations has called out the “state-sanctioned killing” of Iranian protestors after 2 more men were executed on the weekend. Human rights chief Volker Türk says Iran’s ruling regime has “weaponised” the death penalty to stamp out dissent and “punish people for exercising their basic rights”. Türk also flagged alleged violations of due process, including denial of a fair trial, forced confessions through torture, and no right to appeal. It echoes allegations by female activist Sepideh Qolian – she’s written a letter from Iran’s infamous Evin prison detailing the brutal treatment of detainees by interrogators. The UN plans to send investigators to Iran to look into reports of human rights abuses which have ramped up since protests began over the death of 22yo Mahsa Amini in September. Human rights advocates say at least 519 protesters – including 69 children – have been killed in the violence, and 19,300 people have been arrested by security forces. There are 109 civilians facing execution.

World News

China hits back at traveller tests

China has made good on its threat to retaliate against countries that implemented “discriminatory” new rules requiring negative COVID tests from Chinese travellers after suspending the issuing of short-term visas in South Korea and Japan. China has moved away from its strict ‘zero COVID’ policy since locals let it be known that they’d had enough, reopening its international borders for the first time in 3 years on Sunday. COVID is now believed to be rapidly spreading across the country, with satellite images of crowded crematoriums in major cities contradicting the low official death rates. That saw several countries – including Oz – enforce new requirements for Chinese travellers. So far, we’ve avoided any blowback… Meanwhile, the World Health Organization is urging travellers to mask up on long-haul flights to slow the spread of new Omicron subvariants like XBB.1.5, dubbed ‘the Kraken’. It was confirmed to have made it to Oz late last week.

And while we’re talking air travel, passengers in the US have had a bad night after more than 6,000 flights were grounded due to a computer outage. Flights are slowly resuming, with authorities blaming a ‘glitch’ in the system, but it could be a long day of delays ahead…

World News

The sun goes down on energy project

Sun Cable – the company behind the $35 billion solar power project that aimed to turn Oz into a major clean energy exporter – has gone into voluntary administration following a row between the company’s high-profile investors. Reports say Mike Cannon-Brookes and Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest had different opinions about how the project – which was gearing up to send solar power from outside Darwin to Singapore via a 4,200km undersea cable – would best be funded and executed. It’s reported the development of Oz’s biggest renewable energy project was a year behind schedule when Forrest’s Squadron Energy investment arm raised concerns it was “burning cash”. After a proposal from Cannon-Brookes’ Grok Ventures to put in another $60 million was knocked back, the venture collapsed. Cannon-Brookes – the tech entrepreneur who had a go at acquiring energy company AGL – has indicated he is still willing to back the project, while Forrest hasn’t ruled out buying Sun Cable from administrators. 

Australian News Business & Finance Environment & Science

Golden Globes goes off without a hitch

It seems most of Hollywood’s biggest stars decided to forgive and forget at the Golden Globes following a sea of scandal. The 80th-anniversary ceremony saw The Fabelmans take out best picture, with Steven Spielberg also winning best director. The Banshees of Inisherin was also a winner, and Austin Butler claimed best actor for Elvis. Michelle Yeoh – who amusingly refused to be played off mid-speech – got some love for Everything Everywhere All At Once. Cate Blanchett was the only Aussie winner, taking out best film actress for Tár, but didn’t show up to receive it... Squiz fave The White Lotus won best television limited series, with Jennifer Coolidge scoring best supporting TV actress for her performance as gay icon Tanya McQuoid. There were some bold looks on the red carpet, with breakout star Jenna Ortega ditching Wednesday’s signature goth style for something stunning. We’re less sure about Heidi Klum’s number, but at least she didn’t resurrect the worm look


Apropos of Nothing

You’ve got to feel for people in Albury, NSW, who have been unable to get their chilled caffeine fix thanks to a spat between a local shop and the supplier of DARE iced coffee, including an epic passive-aggressive note… Thankfully another supplier intervened before there was any more brew-ha-ha.

Speaking of leaving people hanging… An Indian airline has come under fire for taking off without at least 50 passengers, who were left stranded on the tarmac. The company has apologised, but those affected are still waiting for an explanation.

Also seeking a #pleaseexplain is former UK PM Boris Johnson after he was photoshopped out of an image by a colleague. Business Secretary Grant Shapps says he has no idea how the doctored pic ended up on his Twitter feed and insists he would never endorse anyone “rewriting history”. Never… 

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

ABS Data Release – Job Vacancies, November 2021

A special NATO-Russia Council meeting is held amid Ukraine crisis – Brussels, Belgium

Birthdays for author Haruki Murakami (1949), Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (1964) and pop star Zayn Malik (1993)

Anniversary of:
• Josef Dzhugashvili first using the pseudonym Stalin (“man of steel”) in a letter penned to the newspaper Social Democrat (1913)
• the founding of Timely Comics (later Marvel) by New York publisher Martin Goodman (1939)
• the death of British crime novelist Agatha Christie (1976)
• an earthquake in Haiti that killed more than 200,000 people (2010)

Squiz the Day

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