Squiz Today / 23 March 2023

Squiz Today – Thursday, 23 March

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Squiz Today Podcast

We’ll get you started and on your way.

Today’s listen time: 9.40 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“We don’t want people who watched ‘The Last of Us’ to think we’re all going to die.”

Said infectious disease expert Dr Waleed Javaid of a drug-resistant and potentially deadly fungus that has been spreading rapidly through the US. Joel and Ellie might have something different to say about that…

Accord struck on the Voice

The rules on how the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum will be managed later this year has bipartisan support after the Albanese Government and the Coalition reached an agreement yesterday. This relates to the technical details of how the referendum will be run, with the major parties coming together to change the ‘machinery bill’ to bring referendum votes more in line with how federal elections go down. Pundits say passing the legislation is an important step because, in the grand scheme of things, a vote on the Voice isn’t far away.

That’s a good question because the question on adopting an Indigenous Voice also requires legislation… Long story short, the referendum working group – the people advising the government on the wording – is finalising its advice. Yesterday, the group said it was “so close” to nailing it, and reports this morning say the referendum question and the constitutional amendment could be unveiled as soon as today. That would likely see the parliamentary bill that underpins this referendum introduced to the parliament next week. And if you’re still with us after that, now for the politics… The Nationals don’t support the Voice, no matter the proposal’s wording. The Liberals haven’t decided on its position – that’s something reports say they’ll consider at a party room meeting next week.

Well, not everyone in the Coalition… Northern Territory Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price – a ‘no’ campaign supporter – isn’t happy with the deal Coalition leader Peter Dutton’s done on the ‘machinery’ bill, which includes the distribution of ‘neutral’ information in the lead-up to the vote. She wants the government to fund separate ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigns, and she’s prepared to split from her colleagues if it doesn’t happen. “For me, it is very close to home, and so that’s why I’ll be taking the position that I choose to take when the time comes,” she said. But Dutton continues to call for more details on the substance of the proposed constitutional change. Reports say Albanese and Special Minister of State Don Farrell are keen to get the Coalition onboard for as many steps along the journey because they believe it will ultimately help secure the double majority needed to get the Voice approved. That is, it requires support from a majority of voters and a majority of states.

AusPol Australian News

Squiz the Rest

Another win for China in the Solomons

Beijing’s push to extend its influence in the Pacific took a new turn yesterday after the Solomon Islands awarded a multimillion-dollar contract to a Chinese company to upgrade its international port in Honiara as well as 2 domestic wharves. Aussie officials have voiced concerns about the potential for China to use the ports to dock its warships, though PM Manasseh Sogavare maintains there will never be a Chinese military base in his country. The Solomons leader has had a busy week hosting delegates from the China International Development Agency and officials from the US and Japan. Democratic nations, including Oz, are looking to boost ties with the Solomons after its controversial security deal with China last year, and there are concerns other Pacific island nations could follow. Samoa’s PM Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa – who was in Canberra yesterday – called for better consultation on regional security matters.

Australian News World News

Johnson faces the Partygate music

Boris Johnson has testified before a televised hearing on whether he deliberately misled parliament while serving as UK prime minister. He has already admitted his comments on following COVID rules and guidelines “at all times” were misleading but has denied making them intentionally. London’s Metropolitan Police have fined over 100 Downing Street workers, including Johnson, for pandemic regulation breaches, including drinks and birthday gatherings during lockdowns. The committee’s position is that “breaches of guidance would have been obvious to Mr Johnson at the time he was at the gatherings”. But for his part, Johnson maintains he wasn’t aware he was in the wrong at any time and says it would be “utterly insane” if he is found to be in contempt of parliament. The committee will not give its final report for at least a month, and the scale of sanctions against Johnson could be an apology through to a suspension.

World News

Google puts its Bard to work

The chatbot game is heating up… Google has launched Bard to a select number of users in the US and UK. It’s set to compete with OpenAI’s ChatGPT, but there are some differences… Bard is currently focused on assisting with specific tasks like essay writing and meal suggestions based on fridge contents, while ChatGPT gives human-like responses to a wide range of user prompts. All going well, Google’s plan is to expand to other countries/languages, but as we know, it doesn’t always go well… Last month, Bard provided an inaccurate response to a question, which caused Alphabet’s stock to drop by 7.7%/US$100 billion. The incident highlights the challenges that large language models face in integrating AI technology – challenges the federal government is also looking at. Yesterday, Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic said he’s asked for advice from the National Science and Technology Council about the responsible use of AI, including in journalism.

Australian News

Gwyneth Paltrow on trial

A lawsuit against the actor/businesswoman began in a Utah court yesterday, and some may be surprised it has nothing to do with the effectiveness of her yoni eggs… Retired optometrist Terry Sanderson is suing Paltrow for US$300,000 after she allegedly crashed into him and caused him severe injuries during a family trip at a Utah ski resort in 2016. They were both skiing on a beginner’s slope when the incident occurred, and Sanderson’s lawyers say it was Paltrow’s negligence that caused the collision and left the 76yo with a brain injury and 4 broken ribs. Paltrow has counter-sued for $1 million in damages plus attorney’s fees – her lawyers say the collision was Sanderson’s fault and called his claims “utter BS”. The trial is expected to last about a week, and Paltrow and her children are expected to testify. How the judge will tell the difference between Paltrow and daughter Apple is beyond us…


Printing up a storm in the kitchen

The engineers at Columbia University must have sweet tooths… They’ve developed a method to make fully baked desserts using cutting-edge technology. Testing it out with a 7-ingredient vegan cheesecake recipe, they used lasers and 3D-printing machines to assemble and cook the dessert. And while they might have had a hankering for cheesecake, it was actually about developing practical uses for 3D printing to create food – and the use of lasers is a significant development because of the need for heat in producing many food items. That might sound a bit like sucking the joy out of baked goods, but consider this…  Every slice could be customised to include different flavours and textures. Dr Jonathan Blutinger says “that’s a really cool part of the printing process that you can actually localise flavours” so that every bite is different. You know what’s really cool? Having a job where your focus is developing cool ways to make cheesecakes…


Apropos of nothing

Leanne Smith, a civil celebrant from northern Queensland, says she’s noticed a trend towards statement coffins and unique rituals being incorporated into funeral services. That includes tributes to the deceased’s love of a particular footy team or biscuit. “I guess the rules are, there really aren’t any rules,” Smith says.

You may have noticed many action movie heroes have names like Jack, John, and James, and Slate Magazine has done the hard yards and investigated films from the past 70 years. Of the 790 action movies featuring an ‘everyman’ hero, 33% had a male protagonist with a ‘J’ name. Just in time for a new John Wick movie

A woman in South Carolina has been reunited with her lost pet cockatiel – with some help from Billy Joel. After the bird – cleverly named Joel – flew the coop, fliers were put up around the neighbourhood saying he was partial to Uptown Girl, and he was confirmed to be at a nearby Ferris wheel after he started dancing to the track. The Piano Man is apparently popular with the birds

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30pm (AEDT) – NASA Administrator US Senator Bill Nelson and Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy address the National Press Club – Canberra

12.30pm (AEDT) – The Lowy Institute hosts Dr Charles Edel, Dr Lavina Lee and Justin Burke to discuss the big decisions shaping Australia’s national security policy – Sydney

1.30pm (AEDT) – Men’s Cricket – Sheffield Shield final – WA v Victoria – Perth

9.00pm (AEDT) – Women’s Hockey – Australia v China – Bunbury, WA

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew to appear before US Congress – Washington DC

US Federal Reserve to announce its latest decision on interest rates

World Meteorological Day

Birthdays for former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (1952), celebrity blogger Perez Hilton (1978), and Eugenie, Princess of York (1990)

Anniversary of:
• the 1st recorded use of “OK” [oll korrect] in the Boston Morning Post (1839)
• the Battle of Okinawa, the largest battle of the Pacific War in World War II (1945)
• the premiere of The Bold and the Beautiful (1987)
• the death of Elizabeth Taylor (2011) and Madeline Albright (2022)
• Syria declaring the last Islamic State-controlled territory had been retaken (2019)

Australian News

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