Squiz Today / 29 May 2018

Squiz Today – Tuesday, 29 May


"I did not think."

Mamoudou Gassama, an undocumented Malian migrant in France, became a national hero yesterday after scaling the outside of a Paris apartment block to save a 4yo child dangling from the balcony. And President Emmanuel Macron sure moves quickly – he’s had Gassama over for a picture and promised him residency. Happy endings all round.


The US and China appear to be having a(nother) moment. China confirmed yesterday it had dispatched warships on Sunday to warn off two US Navy vessels sailing near a South China Sea island to which it lays claim. It follows the US disinviting China to participate in a major naval exercise last week. Which followed China’s decision to place missiles on one of the islands. Just when some superpower collaboration would be ideal (think North Korea)…

This is one of those perennial world issues where for very little work (on your part, anyway), you’ll get conversational bragging rights for nailing this. So hang in there.

• The South China Sea is home to a number of islands, reefs and lagoons. It’s also an important shipping route that’s crucial for global trade. The map in this link shows you.

• China dominates in its claim to the territory. But Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan dispute their claim.

• The US and its allies, including Australia, regularly hold ‘freedom of passage’ exercises in the area to ensure China isn’t clogging the major commerce artery.

We’re going to be hearing a lot more about the power changes currently going on at the pointy end of world politics. And China v America is one key theme. US President Donald Trump said last week he thought things were on track with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un until Kim met Chinese President Xi Jinping a couple of weeks ago. And while the South China Sea dispute is its own thing, it’s worth knowing a bit about the broader picture. Lecture over… as you were.


From mega geopolitics to, well, a Tasmanian independent senator joining the Nationals. You’ve gotta love a mixed bag… Steve Martin (the former Jacqui Lambie Network candidate, not the comedian) yesterday become a member of the government. The Nats have not had a federal parliamentary representative from the Apple Isle for 90 years. Lambie yesterday looked up from Tinder for a moment to say she was spewin’ (our word to be fair) and would run at the next election. But for now, Team Turnbull has secured another much-needed guaranteed vote in the tight upper house.

And in our version of political will-they-won’t-they, Pauline Hanson said she wanted voters to give her a call to tell her how much they want the Turnbull Government’s proposed corporate tax cuts. Despite her withdrawal of support last week, her new-found open mind was prompted by yesterday’s Newspoll that indicated strong support for the change. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the package will go before the parliament in the coming month. Anyone with a view either way can take her up on her offer and phone her office on 07 3221 7644. You’re welcome.

The Productivity Commission has handed the federal government its initial thinking on changes to our $2.6 trillion superannuation system. We don’t claim to be experts (is that the sound of our accountant laughing?) but the headline is pretty simple. Default accounts (you know, the one your employer hooks you up with when you start a new job) would be selected from a list of 10 expert-recommended, no-frills products. Underperforming default accounts and multiple accounts can cost a young worker more than $400,000 over their working life, the review found. The Commission's final review will be handed to the government by the end of the year.

No, there’s not a Chianti shortage. Negotiations to form a government after the March election have collapsed. That's because President Sergio Mattarella would not appoint the suggested finance minister – a controversial move. Overnight, Mattarella announced the appointment of Carlo Cottarelli as interim PM and another election is on the way later this year or early next.

And right on time for the official start to winter on Friday. Weather-types warned yesterday that southern Australia is in for lower temperatures and rain from Thursday. That means the lower bit of the country from the east coast to west need to get their parkas out. Phrases like ‘arctic blast' have not been thrown around yet, but give it time.

Choosing between these two was too hard, so here’s both:

• Megastars BTS have become the first K-pop (that’s Korean pop for the uninitiated) group to have a #1 album on the US charts, even more notable because it’s mainly in Korean. “Meticulously choreographed dance style and boyish good looks” characterise their style. Note “good singers” is not nominated as a selling point… You can get on the Korean Wave here with their latest single.

• Is there anything sadder than the news that diva Mariah Carey has sold her US$10 million 35-carat diamond engagement ring given to her by Aussie billionaire James Packer for US$2.1 million? Apart from the real-life tragedies people deal with every day perhaps…


House of Representatives sitting and Senate Estimates hearings resume - Canberra

More than 8,000 Starbucks stores across the US close for racial-bias training

International Day of UN Peacekeepers

Anniversary of Edmund Hillary and sherpa Tenzing Norgay becoming the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest (1953)

Anniversary of the birthday of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, America's 35th president (1917)

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