Squiz Today / 16 February 2023

Squiz Today – Thursday, 16 February

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Squiz Today Podcast

News for your ears.

Today’s listen time: 9.40 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“Proceed with caution.”

Sums up the advice of stylist Sally Mackinnon when it comes to the resurgence of peplum tops, dresses and skirts. A difficult shape to pull off as stylishly as popstar Harry Styles, it’s another reason to hang onto our fashion era highpoint: the COVID tracksuit…

More hip pocket pain on the way

Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe backed the big banks’ big profits and confirmed Australia’s set for an unknown number of future rate hikes during his appearance at the Senate Estimates committee hearing yesterday. Lowe’s been under pressure to explain the rationale behind our 9 consecutive interest rate rises – yesterday, he said they’re trying to mitigate the “corrosive” risk that high inflation poses to the economy. “All the evidence is if inflation stays high for too long, expectations adjust and that leads to higher interest rates and more unemployment,” he said. Inflation is currently “way too high” at 7.8% – well above the 2-3% the Reserve Bank wants to see in more stable economic times.

The short answer: quite a lot, and there’ll be more when he fronts up for another committee hearing tomorrow… Lowe – who’s been criticised for saying Oz wouldn’t see rate rises until 2024 – said he has no plans to resign after politicians grilled him on why he deserves to keep his job. He said the personal criticism was “a bit unfair”, adding that he knows the rate hikes – which have brought the cash rate from 0.1% to 3.35% since May 2022 – are “unpopular”. He said people had contacted him personally to share how they’ve been affected, and he understands “it’s really, really tough”. As for the banks, Lowe said he supported Treasurer Jim Chalmers launching an inquiry into financial institutions’ delayed passing on of rate rises to savings and deposit accounts… But we won’t see the results of that probe for a while, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission given a December deadline.

Long story short, if you’ve got a mortgage, rent a home, or pay for electricity/gas, you’re looking at further hits to your hip pocket this year. Treasury Secretary Steven Kennedy was also before the committee yesterday – he said that inflation had most likely peaked late last year, but demand for energy and housing would keep their prices high. In a sign Aussies are feeling the pinch, the latest retail data shows that although spending is down overall, consumers are still hunting for a bargain… Budget-friendly retailers like Kmart Group (which owns Kmart and Target) and Bunnings yesterday said people are looking for value. And although many of us are trimming our budgets, reports say we still want a “feel-good treat” like lipstick and mascara. Go on, then…

Australian News Business & Finance

Squiz the Rest

Kiwi cyclone turns deadly

At least 4 people, including a child, have died in New Zealand in the dangerous conditions created by ex-tropical Cyclone Gabrielle. Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty said volunteer firefighter Dave van Zwanenberg was found dead in the town of Muriwai, near Auckland. The remains of 3 others were recovered from the hard-hit Hawke’s Bay region. There are also concerns for 1,442 people who have been uncontactable – authorities expect to track down most of them, but there are grave concerns for some. The weather system moved away from the North Island yesterday, but the extent of the damage is still to be assessed, with at least 140,000 Kiwis without power and communications completely cut off in parts of the North. And if that wasn’t enough, a magnitude-6.1 earthquake struck the Lower North Island yesterday evening, with no damage or casualties reported. “I was looking out the window for a plague of locusts,” PM Chris Hipkins said. 

Weather World News

Zelensky calls for more aid as Russia closes in

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is ramping up pressure on Western allies to speed up the delivery of military aid as Russia gets ready to launch a fresh offensive in Ukraine’s east. After months of setbacks, Russia’s military has been focusing on capturing the strategic city of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region ahead of the conflict’s first anniversary on Friday next week. As NATO member country’s Defence ministers met in Brussels this week, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg backed Zelensky’s calls but said providing fighter jets was “not the most urgent issue”. He says allies will deliver “what has always been promised”, including armoured tanks and ammunition. It comes as a new US study has found at least 6,000 Ukrainian children have been detained in ‘re-education’ camps in Russia and its annexed territories over the past year to “deny and suppress Ukraine’s identity, history, and culture”.

World News

Shock as Sturgeon steps down

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has resigned after more than 8 years in the role. Sturgeon – who became the Scottish Nationalist Party leader after the country’s last independence referendum in 2014 – said the challenges of “giving absolutely everything of yourself to this job” mean that it “can only be done by anyone for so long”. In recent weeks, Sturgeon’s been tied up in a controversy over gender reforms and transgender prisoners after a convicted rapist was incarcerated in a women’s prison. She’s also been under pressure for her strategy on Scottish independence. A polling expert says Stugeon’s popularity is as low as it’s been, but Sturgeon denied that’s why she’s leaving. “Maybe I want to spend a bit of time on Nicola Sturgeon the human being,” the 52yo said. She’ll stay in the job until a replacement is found, although a specific timeframe hasn’t been set.

World News

Flying away from Twitter

Twitter boss Elon Musk ran a poll on his social media platform asking if users through someone else should run the company. The answer was ‘yes’, and yesterday he said towards the end of 2023 would be “good timing” to find someone else to have a go. “I think I need to stabilise the organisation and just make sure it’s in a financially healthy place and that the product roadmap is clearly laid out,” he told a conference in Dubai. Musk’s purchase of the blue bird has been a ride – and it hasn’t got any less bumpy. Reports say he’s now concerned about how his personal feed is performing on the site, which resulted in engineers tweeking things so more users see more of his content more of the time. As any social media hound will tell you, engagement is addictive… Disappearing from view are some of the ABC’s Twitter accounts. The public broadcaster wants people focused on @abcnews, just like former US president Donald Trump accidentally did once

Business & Finance Technology

Creme Egg thief’s plans crack

A British man’s plot to allegedly steal 200,000 Cadbury Creme Eggs – more than $54,000 worth – has been foiled by police… Prosecutors said 32yo Joby Pool used a metal grinder to break through the gates of an industrial unit before using a stolen lorry with false plates to take the trailer-load of chocolate eggs. Prosecutors believe “significant planning” went into it, but the best-laid plans cracked apart when Pool was stopped by police on a motorway, where he promptly gave up. Reports say the police were pretty pleased to have “saved Easter”. What’s not clear is Pool’s longer-term plans for the divisive sweet treat – which has long been described as both “disgusting” and “irresistible”, even drawing the ire of children’s author Roald Dahl… He once said that although he wouldn’t eat the “fondant-filled horrors”, “somebody obviously does, by the bucketful”. Or by the trailer load…

Crime Quirky News

Apropos of nothing

A new US study has found that a 3rd of millennial and Gen Z employees are open to dating a colleague, compared to 23% of baby boomers. They may be too young to have experienced the awkwardness of an office breakup…

Vanilla and caramel are probably the first scents that come to mind when one thinks of food-inspired candles, but now a growing number of retailers are offering more savoury scents like sautéed garlic and pasta water. Apparently, the latter is “like dirt, in a beautiful way”…

It’s been just over a year after the copyright expired for AA Milne’s 1926 book Winnie-the-Pooh, and one filmmaker wasted no time creating a horror film starring the famous bear and his friends. This Pooh has more of a taste for blood than honey…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

7.10pm (AEDT) – Women’s Soccer – FFA Cup of Nations – Australia v Czech Republic – Gosford

ABS Data Release – Overseas Arrivals and Departures, December; Labour Force, January

Company Results – Goodman Group; Telstra; Newcrest Mining; AMP; Magellan Financial; NAB; Origin Energy; ASX Ltd; Sonic Healthcare; Domain

Kim Jon-il’s Birthday in North Korea

Kyoto Protocol Day

Do a Grouch a Favor Day

Birthdays for Cathy Freeman (1973) and The Weeknd (1990)

Anniversary of:
• Pope Gregory the Great decreeing “God bless you” as the correct response to a sneeze (600)
• Howard Carter discovering Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb and sarcophagus (1923)
• former North Korean leader Kim Jon-il’s birthday (1941)
• the deaths of 21 Australian nurses in the Banka Island Massacre in WWII (1942)
• Fidel Castro becoming the 16th Prime Minister of Cuba after overthrowing Fulgencio Batista (1959)
• the Ash Wednesday bushfires in Victoria (1983)
• the Kyoto Protocol coming into force following its ratification by Russia (2005)

Squiz the Day

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