Squiz Today / 13 November 2018

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 13 November


“This may actually be the stupidest thing I have ever seen. And if you know any of my mates, you’d know how big of a call that is.”

Said one Twitter wag about the turfed table tops at a Melbourne Grill’d burger joint. Placed there to promote the restaurant’s green credentials, some could only see red.


An alleged drug dealer’s trial kicks off in Brooklyn, New York tomorrow. So what, you ask? This is not just anybody. It’s Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo (which means ‘Shorty’), who was head of one of the world’s largest narcotics organisations. A rags-to-criminal-riches folk story, this one has the lot – drug smuggling, corruption, murder, prison escapes, and a crime kingpin many say is a modern-day Al Capone.

• After more than 20 years during which he became “the most powerful drug trafficker in the world”, 59yo Mexican national Guzmán is accused of generating $14 billion in illicit profits – a fortune he protected by paying off officials and employing a team of assassins to take out anyone who stood in his way. Estimates say his cartel controls 40-60% of Mexico’s drug trade.

• Guzmán had a flair for the dramatic and cultivated a Robin Hood persona. His weapons of choice? A diamond-encrusted pistol and an AK-47 plated in gold.

• He twice slipped out of high-security prisons in Mexico. In 2001, legend has it he broke out by hiding in a laundry cart, and he remained on the run until his arrest in 2014. And in 2015, his experienced team dug a 1.6km tunnel from his prison shower to freedom via a motorbike on rails.

• He was recaptured in 2016 (but not before he was interviewed by actor Sean Penn…) in the sewers of Los Mochis after one of Mexico’s biggest manhunts. Mexico’s decision to allow him to be extradited to the US was put down to its unwillingness to risk another embarrassing escape.

• He arrived in America on the last day of Barack Obama’s presidency. A Mexican security expert said it was a signal to incoming president Donald Trump that a good relationship with Mexico has its benefits.

Guzmán has pleaded not guilty to charges relating to the manufacture and distribution of a range of drugs (including tonnes of heroin, cocaine and marijuana), the use of firearms, money laundering, conspiring to murder rivals and running an ongoing criminal enterprise. Reports say the government will portray Guzmán as “an underworld executive whose sprawling empire routinely trafficked across four continents in an ever-changing fleet of trucks, planes, fishing boats and submarines.” Yikes… The trial could last up to four months with Guzmán facing life in prison in America if found guilty.


What went so wrong at the ABC that boss Michelle Guthrie was sacked, and chairman Justin Milne was asked to go not long after? Where do you start… ABC TV’s Four Corners last night outlined the main players’ descent into dysfunction. From Milne’s perspective, Guthrie was a poor manager who was not handling key risks by letting senior journos run amok. And from Guthrie's, Milne was trying to control her, and at one point rubbed her back inappropriately at a board dinner (an accusation he denies and she declined to complain about formally). End result: their mutual destruction. One to watch if you’re into dramatic power struggles.

Victoria’s top cop yesterday said he didn’t want to see anyone trying to emulate Michael ‘Trolley Man’ Rogers’ actions in Friday’s terror attack in Melbourne. Rogers received praise across the weekend that led to a fundraising effort that’s netted more than $130,000 for the homeless man (note: reports say he has access to public housing). Police Commissioner Graham Ashton said “I don’t like to criticise people in that situation… But if a trolley had hit a police member and knocked him over and then this offender got on top of him, we could have had a tragic consequence." Slain restauranteur Sisto Malaspina will be honoured with a state funeral.

Foodbank, our largest food charity that helps 710,000 Australians through its ‘Key Staples’ program, had notice from the government last week that its funding will be cutjust as it approaches the busy Christmas season. While the government says food relief funding overall hasn’t been cut, it would be extended beyond the original two organisations (Foodbank and SecondBite) with the inclusion of a third (plus OzHarvest). But after a day of protest from supporters, Social Security Minister Paul Fletcher saidhe’d check out what his pesky department had been up to. Watch this space.

A meeting today will decide if Britons will need a visa to visit European Union nations post-Brexit. As one article said, it’s possible that spur-of-the-moment weekends away to the continent could be a thing of the past for British passport holders. With the date that Brexit is scheduled to start - 29 March 2019 – fast approaching, it’s sizable issues like this that are still to be worked through, and the next 48 hours are said to be crucial to the outcome. UK PM Theresa May still has to go back to the EU with a(nother) final plan later this month despite concerns from some wobblers in her government.

The latest official numbers have the gender pay gap falling by the biggest margin since stats started being collected five years ago. The gap has been reduced to 21.3% which means men earn almost $26,000 more than women on average. The fall has been put down to more women being promoted to senior roles. A big improver is the financial/insurance industry with a 6% gap closing effort (however, it's still the highest at 30.3%). The gender pay gap in the health and construction sectors increased in 2017-18.

She's done a heap of interviews already, but the publicity trail is just beginning for former First Lady Michelle Obama. Her book, Becoming*, is out today (tomorrow Oz time). What we know is she talks about never being able to forgive President Trump for coming after her husband Barack over things like his country of birth. She also writes about all the feels she had for Barack when they were courting (the word ‘lust’ was used…), their struggle to fall pregnant, and the work they put into their marriage. One thing that seems to come through is how close the couple is – and that their regular PDAs made their staff uncomfortable

*Buy this book using this link and The Squiz gets a little commission.


12.30pm (AEDT) - Libby Lyons and Elysia McCaffrey to address the National Press Club on workplace gender equality reporting - Canberra

ASEAN Leaders Summit - Singapore (on until Wednesday)

ABS Data Release - Lending Finance, September

National Australia Bank Business Confidence Index for October

The Pink Legacy diamond to be auctioned in Geneva, Switzerland

Birthday for Gerard Butler (who doesn't have a lot to celebrate this year...) (1969)

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