Squiz Today / 17 October 2023

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 17 October

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Squiz Today Podcast

Today’s listen time: 9.30 minutes

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Squiz Sayings


Is the first word 21yo US college student Luke Farritor was able to decipher on a 2,000yo scroll unearthed from the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum. He used artificial intelligence to do it, making history in the process – and winning himself a nifty US$40,000 prize. 

Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, and fears of conflict spreading

The Squiz 

The city of Khan Younis in Gaza’s south is chockas as close to 500,000 Gazans from the north of the territory heed Israel’s warning to flee the area ahead of an expected invasion. Philippe Lazzarini, the top official of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, says that “Gaza is being strangled” by Israel’s blockade on food, water, medicine, and fuel into the territory. Reports say Israel has agreed to allow water into the southern part of Gaza after pressure from the US, but the UN is still warning that thousands of hospital patients will be at risk when backup generators run out of fuel reserves. It’s a situation that’s seen US Secretary of State Antony Bliken return to Israel as diplomats hold frantic talks to ease the humanitarian crisis. 

Remind me why Israel wants to get into Gaza… 

Israel’s leaders have vowed to destroy Hamas, the terrorist organisation that controls Gaza and carried out the attacks on 7 October that saw 1,400 Israeli soldiers and civilians killed. It was the deadliest single day for Jews since the Holocaust. According to the Israel Defence Force, Hamas operates from underneath Gaza City, with the organisation claiming to have built 500km of tunnels under the densely populated strip of land. That’s helped them to hide from Israeli airstrikes, but Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu says he is determined to “dismantle Hamas” once and for all. Experts say that the expulsion of civilians from the north of Gaza could mean that Israel’s army is planning to bomb the tunnels – a strategy that will likely destroy structures above ground as well.

So what can world leaders and diplomats do?

Not a lot other than holding talks and anxiously hoping that the conflict doesn’t spiral out of control… The US has sent a second aircraft carrier towards the coast of Israel in recent days to deter escalation and help protect Israel. Looking further afield, the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group is based in Lebanon, and Lebanese civilians are now afraid the group will attack Israel’s northern border and drag their country into war. Meanwhile, Iran (which also backs Hamas) has threatened escalation if Israel goes ahead with its planned ground invasion of Gaza. And to Israel’s south, Egypt is grappling with whether to let civilians escape through its land border with Gaza. UN boss Antonio Guterres summed up the situation, writing that we are “on the verge of the abyss in the Middle East”.

World News

Squiz the Rest

Assessing the options after the failed referendum

The Albanese Government is considering its next steps to close the gap for Australia’s Indigenous people, and reports say one option being considered is an interim policy advisory group to report to PM Anthony Albanese. Nothing’s set in stone, but Team Albanese is under pressure to answer questions about what will be done to improve outcomes. There was also more said about why the referendum was defeated… Labor MP Marion Scrymgour (who represents most of the Northern Territory by area) says “an element of racism” played a part. “There was a lot of bullying and other misinformation that was peddled out,” she says. But her Labor colleague Mike Freelander said the ‘Yes’ campaign was an “echo chamber of elites talking to elites”. Also considering the result is Coalition leader Peter Dutton – his commitment to hold a referendum on Indigenous recognition is “going to be reviewed”.

AusPol Australian News

The ABC’s ordered to cough up

Our national broadcaster has been told to pay $390,000 to ex-soldier Heston Russell after he won a defamation case against the broadcaster in the Federal Court. The ABC ran defamatory reports in ‘20 and ‘21 that linked Russell to alleged war crimes in Afghanistan in 2012. Russell denied any wrongdoing and sued. The broadcaster attempted to prove the allegations were true but later dropped that defence. Next up was arguing the reporting was in the public interest, but yesterday, the court ruled in favour of Russell, saying the ABC couldn’t show it “reasonably believed” the reports were in the public interest. Outside court, Russell said the case traumatised him “more than any enemy we ever faced overseas”. But Justice Michael Lee was also critical of Russell, saying he’d “embraced the public controversy … and used it to further his personal causes and profile”.

Australian News

The serious business of gaming

Tech giant Microsoft has completed its purchase of US video game company Activision Blizzard, forking out a cool US$68.7 billion to take control of the company. The deal is notable because it’s Microsoft’s biggest acquisition ever. For context, it paid US$26 billion to buy LinkedIn back in 2016, and it’s also the biggest-ever gaming deal overall. For dedicated gamers, it means massively popular games like World of Warcraft and Call of Duty will now be part of the Xbox family. And given the scale of it, it might not be surprising that the deal wasn’t straightforward… The purchase took 20 months of negotiations with UK and US regulators over competition concerns. “Today is a good day to play,” said Xbox boss Phil Spencer (note: not the adorable guy from Location, Location, Location…).

Business & Finance Technology World News

A bunch of legends

They’ve long been referred to as legends, but now it’s official… Former Wallabies captain Mark Ella, surfer Layne Beachley and AFL star Bob Skilton have been elevated to legend status in Australia’s Sport Hall of Fame. Ever humble, Ella (who was the first Indigenous Aussie to captain a national sports team) said it was a surprise. “I haven’t played rugby since I was 25, and I’m 60-something, so it’s been a long time, but I’m honoured,” he said. Speaking of legends, Afghanistan’s national cricket team made history yesterday with a 69-run win over England in the Cricket World Cup. The Poms are the defending champs, and pundits say it’s one of the biggest sporting upsets of all time. Meanwhile, the struggling Oz team beat Sri Lanka by 5 wickets early this morning. Before that, we’d lost both of our opening matches and were second from the bottom of the 10-team tournament table… 


Paying for our old stuff

As Hollywood’s writers get back to work following a 5-month strike over (in part…) their remuneration in the age of streaming, Aussie writers are finding there is a long tail to their work… The platforms are taking Polish viewers to the beach with old eps of Bondi Rescue, while young Norwegians are as enamoured with Bluey as we are. And in the age-old debate about whether you’re a Neighbours or Home and Away fan, Estonia lines up with Summer Bay, while Latvia, the Czech Republic and Poland are more at home on Ramsay Street. Speaking of Latvia, who knows what their kids make of The Wild Adventures of Blinky Bill, but they’re on it like a koala on a gum leaf… In total, the writers on Aussie productions are set to make a record $2.42 million in secondary royalties this year, up 15% on 2022. Australia’s writers’ guild says the individual payments aren’t huge, but it’s a welcome bonus.

Australian News

Apropos of nothing

Chinese women are flocking to the cinema, defying the nation’s economic downturn. And while Western blockbusters like Barbie did okay, the top flicks since June include local productions like romantic mystery Lost in the Stars and fantasy Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms.

A model Star Wars spacecraft used in the OG film has been sold for almost $5 million. The 20-inch X-Wing starfighter prop was lost for decades and was found amongst the belongings of the Oscar-nominated model maker Greg Jein, who died last year. The massive price makes it the most expensive Star Wars screen-used prop to be sold at auction. 

Kenny the Kennebec potato has fallen over. And if you’re upset, imagine how the people of Tasmania’s Sassafras feel that their fibreglass/cement mascot has succumbed to damage from a truck and high winds. At least the internet had some fun with it…

Australian News Quirky News

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