Squiz Today / 17 August 2017

Squiz Today – Thursday, 17 August


“It was classy. We had the macaroni topped with hot Cheetos.”

Said one diner of her experience at Manhattan’s popup restaurant du jour, The Spotted Cheetah. There are 11 items on the menu that showcase the culinary delicacy that is Cheetos – the cheese-flavoured cornmeal puffs beloved by, well, anyone who loves really processed food. Open for just three days, the hot spot has a 1,000-person waitlist for a table. Of course.


New reports that Australian-born Islamic State terrorist Khaled Sharrouf and two of his young sons have been killed in Syria circulated yesterday. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the government was unable to verify the news given the complexity of when dealing with warzones. However, reports from the ABC and The Australian say officials have confirmed a US-led attack near Raqqa last Friday killed Sharrouf and sons Abdullah (12yo) and Zarqawi (11yo) – thought to be the first Australian child deaths from an air strike in Syria. He was Australia’s most wanted terrorist, and this is the fourth time his demise has been claimed.

Sharrouf was one of more than 100 Australians fighting with Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. The shorter history is:

• BACKGROUND: Sharrouf (36yo) fled to Syria in 2013 on his brother’s passport to join Islamic State after serving four years in prison in Australia for his involvement in a terrorism conspiracy. He was said to have severe schizophrenia and those who knew him say fighting for Islam was all he wanted to do.

• FAMILY: Wife Tara Nettleton and their five children went to Syria with him. It’s believed Tara died in 2015 from health complications. The welfare of their three surviving children is not known. Daughter Zaynab (16yo) married Sharrouf’s mate Mohammad Elomar (who was killed in an air strike in 2015), and she has a child.

• NOTABLE: Sharrouf first came to international attention in 2014 when he posed for a picture with son Abdullah while holding the severed head of a Syrian official. He reprised the picture earlier this year – this time with 6yo son Hamzah holding the head. Sharrouf was the first Australian to be stripped of his citizenship under new anti-terror laws earlier this year.

In Iraq, after successfully in driving IS out of Mosul, the government is focusing on Tal Afar, a city of 200,000 that has been under IS control since 2014. And in Syria, the battle for Raqqa (where Sharrouf is said to have been killed) is where it’s at. Reports earlier this month said there were 2,000 IS fighters in the city and US-backed forces are throwing everything at it. Further afield, Russia, a key ally of the Syrian government, has been involved in making ceasefire agreements between Syrian and rebel forces. So it's fair to say there’s still some way to go.


The reprisals have already started against the Yarra City Council in Melbourne’s inner north-east after they voted on Tuesday night to no longer acknowledge Australia Day on 26 January out of respect for the concerns of Indigenous people. Last night, the federal government stripped the council of the power to hold citizenship ceremonies after learning it planned to replace the Australia Day ceremony with an event to mark the loss of Indigenous culture. The council’s move became a national issue yesterday - both PM Malcolm Turnbull and Labor leader Bill Shorten said they were not in favour of moving Australia Day. "Reconciliation is more about changing hearts and minds than it is about moving public holidays," Shorten said.

Channel Seven and Fairfax Media’s financial results announced yesterday have underlined the government’s case for media law reform. Seven West Media posted a loss of $744 million last financial year and CEO Tim Worner had his bonus taken from him following the cluster-disaster that was his affair with executive assistant Amber Harrison. Fairfax had a much better day – it reported an $84 million profit but said revenue was down almost 5%. Fairfax underwent big cost-cutting and job-slashing to get back into the black. So it’s no wonder then that they are enthusiastic supporters of reforms that will open the door to greater consolidation and make it easier to operate.

It’s official – wages growth was stuck at 1.9% last financial year - the lowest it’s been for a couple of decades. It’s at the same level as inflation, so the good news is we’re not going backwards on that front. There’s not much hope wages growth will speed up anytime soon, so it was timely for the competition regulator to reassure those of us with a mortgage that they are pressing the banks to explain out-of-cycle interest rate increases. The ACCC has been funded by the government to stop the banks from passing on the $6.2 billion levy to customers. We don’t know why but this clip came to mind…

Like a kid that’s been made to apologise but doesn’t really mean it, US President Donald Trump is back in trouble over who’s to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. He’d been slow to condemn white supremacists for the weekend’s violence, but he eventually got there. Then came yesterday – it was a bad one for three reasons:

1. Trump undid his good work by reverting to his line that there were "two sides to the story”.

2. The prolific Tweeter was upstaged by former President Barack Obama who made Twitter history when his tweet urging tolerance became the most ‘liked’ tweet ever.

3. He disbanded his business advisory councils – eight CEOs quit this week over his refusal to blast the white supremacists. 

BTW given her enthusiasm for the Trump Administration, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson's right to feel a bit miffed hasn’t been missed by the Aussie media. A US State Department report released yesterday names her party as a threat to religious freedom in Australia.

Speaking of political types behaving badly, Grace Mugabe, wife of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, got into trouble in South Africa on the weekend and has failed to turn herself in to police. It’s alleged that Mugabe attacked a model in a Johannesburg hotel room with an electrical extension cord after finding her with sons Robert Jr and Chatunga (both are in their 20s). Although South African authorities believe she is still in the country, a Zimbabwean official confirmed Mugabe had returned home to Harare setting the scene for a potential diplomatic incident. Talk about a tiger mum!

It’s Thursday, it’s been a long week, and you might be pondering your life's purpose (we know we are…). Take some heart from Hans Nilsson’s story, the man who has spent the last three years trying to track down an elusive white moose (no, not on a dessert menu…) in Sweden. Nilsson’s dream finally came true this week – and he got it on camera. The moose is pretty cool - even its antlers are white! So good on you, Hans, you’re an inspiration. But we do worry though if, after three years of obsessive moose stalking, he has any friends left...


12.30pm (AEST) - Ed Balls (UK Shadow Chancellor) and Wayne Swan (former Australian Treasurer) to address the National Press Club on 'The GFC 10 Years On' - Canberra

ABS Data Releases - Labour Force, July; Average Weekly Earnings, May

Company Earnings Announcements - Wesfarmers and Telstra

Indonesian Independence Day

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