Squiz Today / 19 January 2023

Squiz Today – Thursday, 19 January

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Squiz Today Podcast

Fitting into the way you do your news day. 

Today’s listen time: 9.30 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“I’m making it my life mission to remain in the dark over whatever Karl Stefanovic drama exists…”

Tweeted someone who’s opted out of getting into the deets of a scandal that blew up the internet last night. The TV host and former Aussie cricket captain Michael Clarke were involved in a fight in a park in Noosa last week that included their partners. It’s going to be everywhere today, so you might as well hear it from a mate…

The trouble with untidy paperwork…

The White House is taking new steps to manage the damaging classified documents drama that has engulfed US President Joe Biden. Yesterday, Ian Sams, a spokesperson for the White House counsel’s office (aka the President’s in-house lawyer), fronted a press conference to explain the drip-feed of disclosures. To go back a step, there have been several announcements on bits and pieces, and on Saturday, the White House said Biden’s attorneys found the official records on 4 separate occasions in 3 different places between early November and mid-December. Sams says the way they’re ‘fessing up is down to “respecting the integrity of an ongoing Justice Department investigation“. For Biden’s part, he’s said that he was “surprised” the papers were in his office, garage and library and that he takes the handling of classified documents “very seriously” because of how important their proper management is to national security. 

Nice/timely tennis reference… It’s a good question, and reports say Biden’s frustrated about how much he’s able to say about it and his team’s handling of what they can say. It’s important because it’s being held up next to the investigation into his predecessor Donald Trump and his possession of classified documents from his time in office. The cases are different. Reports say Biden had about 20 documents he shouldn’t have – Trump had more than 300. Biden willingly turned over the documents once found – Trump didn’t. In both cases, federal prosecutors could recommend criminal charges… But at the moment, it’s a headache for Biden as he hits the second half of his term and the presidential election cycle kicks into gear. That’s the Republicans’ cue to go about making his remaining time in office miserable… 

Very – and one reason is that in November’s midterm elections, Biden’s opponents – the Republicans – won control of the US House of Representatives. You might remember last week, we talked about the trouble the party was having electing a speaker? Well, Kevin McCarthy made it over the line on the 15th try after making deals with Trump-aligned conservatives – including giving them plum committee roles. And from there, they can launch inquiries, investigations, and get up to all sorts of skullduggery… That includes getting up in the grill of Biden’s senior officials and signature policies. And it’s likely to include going after Biden’s son Hunter and his business dealings in an effort to damage the President. Last week, Republicans started making moves in that direction, so get ready for it… 

And to help you do that, this week’s Squiz Shortcut is the Hunter Biden backstory. We cover his colourful personal life, his connection to Ukraine, and what an abandoned laptop has to do with it. Check it out here… 

World News

Squiz the Rest

Chopper crash a blow for Ukraine

At least 14 people – including Ukraine’s interior minister and 3 children – died overnight after a helicopter crashed close to a kindergarten near Kyiv. Denys Monastyrsky was responsible for police and security inside Ukraine, making him the country’s most senior official to die since the war began. An investigation has been launched into what caused the crash. It comes after the first batch of Aussie troops left Darwin yesterday headed to the UK, where they will help train Ukrainian fighters. About 70 Army soldiers will take part in ‘Operation Interflex’, which aims to get 20,000 Ukrainian citizen soldiers “combat ready” this year. It’s been running with several Western countries since last July, but this is the first time Oz has taken part after the Albanese Government pledged support in October. Ukraine will also get more help when they receive 14 ‘Challenger 2’ tanks from the UK, with calls for Germany and other NATO countries to provide ‘Leopard 2’ tanks as part of a fresh international push to help the nation. 

Australian News World News

Qantas flight fright

Travellers from Auckland landed safely at Sydney Airport yesterday after a mid-air mayday call was issued. Qantas says one of QF144’s 2 engines failed when it was an hour from Sydney and made the ‘life-threatening emergency’ call in line with standard procedures – it was later downgraded to a PAN (possible assistance needed). The twin-jet Boeing 737 can operate with just one engine (as the events of yesterday shows…), although a loss of speed and altitude is something to manage. To avoid a panic, the plane’s more than 100 passengers were not alerted to the problem until the flight had landed. Instead, they were told there was a “slight malfunction”, and some reported hearing a bang and feeling a “slight shudder”. On the ground, over 130,000 people were tracking the flight’s progress on Flightradar24 at one point. Emergency crews were at the airport when the plane landed. Qantas says it will share more information about the incident after engineers have assessed the aircraft. 

Australian News

Hackers steal half a billion in FTX fail

As former billionaire/tech wunderkind Sam Bankman-Fried awaits his day in court over the collapse of crypto-currency exchange FTX, the company has reported $594 million was stolen by hackers in 2 separate incidents. The first occurred 2 days after FTX filed for bankruptcy in November when hackers stole roughly half of all the crypto on its US-based exchange, valued at around $130 million. Then, about 20% of FTX’s international exchange worth over $460 million vanished. FTX also revealed some staff were able to remove digital assets from the platform without triggering any records. The firm says it still has significant shortfalls on both exchanges, even after recovering $7 billion in assets last week. Bankman-Fried says the company has enough funds to repay US customers, who (based on his “best guess”) are owed between $260 million and $711 million. But given it’s estimated a total of $11 billion of customers’ money has gone missing, it’ll have to dig a little deeper…

Business & Finance Technology

AFLW star trades boots for a whistle

Women’s Aussie Rules trailblazer Daisy Pearce is hanging up her boots after a successful playing career with the Melbourne Demons, saying she’s moving on “with a very full heart”. The 34yo was emotional during the announcement yesterday, saying it had been weighing on her mind in the off-season but that she’d decided to retire on a high following her team’s first Premiership win last season. To explain why she’s a big deal… Back in 2016, she was the first player signed to Melbourne’s inaugural women’s team – and she was named captain. Throughout her 7 seasons, she’s been a 3-time club best and fairest, 3-time All-Australian and 4-time AFLW best captain. She’s also established herself as a well-respected commentator off-field. But she won’t be leaving the game entirely – she’s moving to an assistant coaching role with the Geelong AFL (aka men’s) team for the upcoming season. 

And while we’re talking sport… Defending champion Rafael Nadal is out of the Australian Open after losing to unseeded American Mackenzie McDonald. The Spaniard went down 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 after a hip injury flared up during the second set. The 22-time major singles champion believes pride enabled him to play through pain and finish the match, saying, “I didn’t want to leave the court with a retirement. Better like this in the end. I lost.”


Going once, going twice at Twitter

If you’re still loving Twitter despite all the recent, ahem, changes, you can now own a piece of iconic paraphernalia – including a giant neon Twitter bird – with the company auctioning off its “surplus corporate assets”. But it’s not all 6-foot tall decorative planters shaped like the ‘@’ symbol, commercial pizza ovens and fancy Eames chairs… There are pages and pages of ordinary office equipment also going under the hammer, like these very exciting room-divider whiteboards. With 631 lots up for grabs, there’s bound to be something for everyone. Our pick would be one of the sound-proof booths for podcasting – and to get a bit of peace and quiet… Since taking over in late October, Musk has fired around half of the company’s 7,500 staff and ended employee perks like free meals. Twitter’s struggles could be your good luck – but you need to be quick because the auction ends this afternoon. Just mind those shipping costs from San Francisco… 

Business & Finance Technology

Apropos of nothing

When you picture the most contaminated surface in the kitchen, you might think of the chopping board, the bin lid or the sink. But a new study has found spice jars actually tend to harbour the most germs due to cross-contamination. Now we think about it…

Madonna has unveiled a 35-date greatest hits world tour in a viral video featuring the likes of Jack Black and Amy Schumer. Soz Aussie fans, the tour is North America and Europe only. TBD if she makes a stop at Amiens on official artwork business… 

You may have heard of animal lovers who include their furry friends in their nuptials, but now there’s a new wedding trend in town: pet adoption booths. Loved-up vibes, lots of champagne and cute animals – what could possibly go wrong?

Australian News

Squiz the Day

ABS Data Release – Labour Force, December

Company Earnings – Netflix

A birthday for Dolly Parton (1946)

Anniversary of:
• ABC’s Triple J broadcasting for the first time (1975)
• the birthdays of rocker Janis Joplin (1943) and rapper Mac Miller (1992)
• the death of former Aussie cricketer David Hookes (2004). His untimely death led to national discussions on organ donation
• champion cyclist Lance Armstrong admitting to doping in all 7 of his Tour de France victories (2013)

Squiz the Day

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