Squiz Today / 09 March 2023

Squiz Today – Thursday, 9 March

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Squiz Today Podcast

Getting you to the ‘good to go’ stage of the morning. 

Today’s listen time: 9.40 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“I’m sure listening to ABBA had something to do with me getting the tickets. The pop gods were smiling.”

Said one Brit who managed to get his hands on tickets for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool before they sold out in just 90 minutes. It was the first time all shows sold out on the first day, so this bloke was lucky he didn’t have to send out an SOS… 

A high-profile case back in the spotlight…

Former federal Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann is in the headlines again – this time for the defamation case he’s brought against media companies Network Ten and News Corp, along with journalists Lisa Wilkinson and Samantha Maiden. The news outlets and journalists’ lawyers have filed their defence documents with the Federal Court, detailing their plan to prove Lehrmann assaulted his colleague Brittany Higgins in their minister’s office in early 2019. That’s the approach Lisa Wilkinson’s also taking, as we talked about last week… Lehrmann’s repeatedly denied the accusation and pleaded not guilty in a criminal trial dropped last year.

The defence teams’ plans hinge on something called a ‘truth’ defence, which is one way of defending a defamation lawsuit in Oz. To explain how it works… Lehrmann is suing the journalists and media outlets for their reporting of the alleged assault. Because he denies that it happened, he says the reports harmed his reputation – aka defamed him. But if the defence team can prove ‘on the balance of probabilities’ that he did assault Higgins, the journalists and outlets would be able to say their reporting was fine because it was true. Both outlets have argued that Lehrmann wasn’t named in the reports, so he cannot be defamed… There’s also a question of ‘qualified privilege’. That protects honest communication between people – like a journalist and their source – without fear of being sued for defamation, as long as it can be proven that there was no malice intended.

The case isn’t straightforward, and it’s not yet decided whether it will make it to trial. Lehrmann filed his lawsuit after the one-year limitation period (the legally allowed time a complainant can lodge a suit) with the Wilkinson/Higgins interview on The Project airing more than 2 years old. It’s now on Lehrmann to convince the court to extend the limitation period that will allow the case to progress further. If the case does make it to trial, Lehrmann will likely be called on to give evidence, meaning he’ll also face a grilling from defence lawyers, and reports say Higgins would also be expected to appear.

Australian News

Squiz the Rest

When they go high… what next?

Speaking yesterday after Tuesday’s interest rate rise, Reserve Bank Governor Phillip Lowe has said there could be a pause on future rate increases, but stopped short of confirming that’s the plan. Lowe says it’ll all depend on this month’s economic data including updates on unemployment, inflation, and retail spending. “We’ve got a completely open mind about what happens in the next board meeting,” he told a business summit. In the US, though, central banker Jerome Powell went the opposite way and instead speculated about further and bigger rate rises. Gambling types now have their bets on America’s next rise being 0.50%, taking their official rate to just over 5%. And if that isn’t head-spinning enough, Australians are getting more information about rising energy prices. The market regulator could raise the benchmark energy price by “at least 20%”, according to Origin Energy boss Frank Calabria.

Australian News Business & Finance

Ukraine calls intelligence report a gas up

New intelligence reviewed by US and European officials suggests a pro-Ukrainian group may have been responsible for orchestrating the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines in September last year. The natural gas pipelines between Russia and Germany underpinned a 3rd of Germany’s energy needs. At the time of the attack, it was assumed Russia was responsible as it had recently cut off flows in retaliation for Germany’s support of Ukraine, even though there were doubts it would destroy its own infrastructure. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says his government was “in no way involved in the attack” – and there’s no evidence it was – but the thinking now is Ukraine had the biggest motive to launch the attack, having long opposed the pipeline. Officials haven’t ruled out the possibility it was a false flag attack and that supporters of Russia are trying to frame Ukraine. If confirmed, the findings could affect Germany’s support for Kyiv after the country has grappled with skyrocketing power prices.

World News

Do you even work here?

Elon Musk and his… unusual management style are back in the news again. This time, Musk mocked a Twitter employee’s disability before the company confirmed the man was fired. Halli Thorleifsson survived several rounds of layoffs before being locked out of his computer but was never given notice of his termination. After getting crickets from his internal inquiries, Halli decided to tweet at Musk. Musk then conducted an impromptu and very public appraisal of Halli’s work via a Twitter exchange, after which Halli finally heard back from Twitter’s HR to say he was laid off. But Musk wasn’t done – he came back later to criticise Halli and cast doubt over his disability (Halli has muscular dystrophy). Musk seemed to regret the exchange, later tweeting “I would like to apologize to Halli for my misunderstanding of his situation.” In totally unrelated news, a US movie critic says Hollywood’s new go-to baddie is a tech bro. Shocker, huh?

Business & Finance Technology

A worrying new dementia study

Those who experience chronic stress are more likely to develop dementia later in life, according to a major new US study. Over nearly 2 decades, University of Alabama researchers tracked the stress levels and brain functions of more than 24,000 adults who had an average age of 64yo when the study began. Nearly a quarter of that group reported experiencing high levels of constant stress during their lives, which was then linked to a higher risk of developing cognitive impairment, including reduced memory or thinking skills. After considering other dementia risk factors like smoking, diet, fitness and age, researchers found that participants with high stress were 37% more likely to have issues than those who reported lower stress levels. Researchers have called on GPs to monitor the stress levels of older patients to determine whether they have a higher risk of developing dementia. If you’re a stresshead and this adds to your worries, a hot tip from another new study is that sighing is the way to go


ChatGPT M*A*S*Hes together a script

Whether you reckon ChatGPT will destroy the world or become a handy tool, fans of the long-running sitcom M*A*S*H would agree that at least it reunited 2 of its beloved characters… Star Alan Alda asked the artificial intelligence chatbot to write a script for a scene where Hawkeye accuses right-hand man BJ of stealing his boxer shorts. The result was read out by Alda and co-star Mike Farrell on the former’s podcast, and you can judge how it turned out… The pair disagreed on whether ChatGPT and similar technologies will put TV writers out of a job anytime soon, but, luckily, the large language model isn’t sentient, with Alda saying it has “a terrible sense of humour”. The exercise marked the first time the characters have interacted since the 1983 series finale, which to this day remains the most-watched program on US television other than the Super Bowl. 

Entertainment Technology

Apropos of nothing

A fridge with a built-in ice dispenser was once considered the height of luxury, and now ice enthusiasts are taking things to a whole new level… From specialty moulds in all shapes and sizes to fancy flavoured ice, the humble ice cube has received a designer makeover. And here we were thinking it’s just frozen water…

A new phenomenon dubbed ‘sushi terrorism’ has been bringing sushi trains to a halt across Japan in recent weeks. A viral video of a teen licking a communal soy sauce bottle and food on the conveyer belt has sparked copycat crimes, forcing restaurants to implement hygiene measures, including a switch to table service.

To mark International Women’s Day, statues of Australia’s first female federal pollies – Dame Dorothy Tangney and Dame Enid Lyon – were unveiled in Canberra yesterday. Other than the late Queen, they’re the first statues of human females in the Parliamentary Zone – even former PM John Gorton’s beloved hound Suzie Q had been immortalised in bronze before a woman received the honour…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30pm (AEDT) – Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce CEO Sam Mostyn to speak at the National Press Club – Canberra

12.30pm (AEDT) – The Lowy Institute hosts a conversation between former Australian Army Major General Mick Ryan and Ukrainian journalist Zoya Sheftalovich called ‘The Russia–Ukraine war: where to now?’ – Sydney

3.00pm (AEDT) – Men’s Cricket – 4th Test – Australia v India – Ahmedabad

7.30pm (AEDT) – Women’s Basketball – WNBL Semi-Final Game One – Townsville Fire v Perth Lynx – Townsville

World Kidney Day

Moomba Festival begins (until 13 March) – Melbourne

Newcastle Fringe Festival begins (until 19 March)

ChillOut Queer Country Pride Festival begins – Daylesford (until 12 March)

Anniversary of:
• the launch of the Barbie doll at the American Toy Fair in New York (1959)
• Soviet flight Sputnik 9 returning from orbit with a dog, frogs and a guinea pig (1961)
• the death of rapper The Notorious BIG (1994)
• NASA Space Shuttle Discovery making its final landing after 39 flights (2011)

Squiz the Day

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