Squiz Today / 12 July 2023

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 12 July

%%=Format(@localdatetime, “dddd, d MMMM yyyy”)=%%

Squiz Today Podcast

Coffee queue appropriate.

Today’s listen time: 9.30 minutes

8 / 20
10 / 17
9 / 22
7 / 17
11 / 21
10 / 17
21 / 33
-2 / 14

Squiz Sayings

“Silence is a real experience”

Said one of the scientists behind a new study that found people perceive silence as a kind of sound in itself, rather than just an absence of noise. Simon and Garfunkel were really onto something

Ukraine: in or out?


NATO’s leaders have started talks in Vilnius, Lithuania, overnight in the first of 2 days of high-powered decision-making. The military alliance between 29 European countries, plus the US and Canada, presents a united military front to deter attacks against any single member. One major question heading into this week’s summit was whether NATO’s leaders would commit to admitting Ukraine as soon as Russia’s invasion ends, which is something its President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked for. But the news overnight is that NATO will give Ukraine its membership card only “when allies agree and conditions are met”… meaning Ukraine won’t have a guaranteed timeline for entry into the alliance.


Guaranteeing Ukraine membership could mean that Russia extends its war to prevent NATO from growing, and could also cause an escalation of the conflict. US President Joe Biden was against guaranteed membership, saying last week that Ukraine isn’t ready and Russia’s invasion needs to end before America would reconsider. He said: “If the war is going on, then we’re all in war.” There are also more immediate matters NATO leaders are discussing, including how to keep Ukraine supplied with ammunition. Reports say that Vladimir Putin is trying to outlast NATO’s support of Ukraine, so another challenge for the leaders meeting in Vilnius is to agree on how they’ll continue to supply Ukraine with weapons and ammo for as long as they’re needed. It’s a fine needle to thread…

ANYTHING ELSE ON THE AGENDA?Yep – progressing Sweden’s membership… In a middle finger to Putin, Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine. Finland officially joined in April this year. But Sweden’s application was almost derailed when Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to block it at the last minute. Turkey had previously delayed after accusing Sweden of hosting Kurdish militants, but Erdoğan’s surprise demand this week was making Sweden’s NATO membership dependent on Turkey’s admittance into the European Union. Erdoğan soon backed down – speculation points to the US agreeing to sell Turkey the F-16 fighter jets they want. So many twists and turns…

World News

Squiz the Rest

Heading back to court

Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith has lodged an appeal over the loss of his landmark defamation case against Nine newspapers last month. That case was dismissed by Federal Court ​​Justice Anthony Besanko, who found claims he committed war crimes and bullied a fellow soldier were substantially true. Roberts-Smith, who adamantly maintains his innocence, has not revealed the grounds of his appeal. And the law firm that brought a previous class action lawsuit on behalf of Robodebt victims is considering a new claim in light of the Royal Commission’s damning findings against those who administered the scheme. The Federal Court approved a $1.8 billion settlement between the Commonwealth and victims in 2021. Now, a new lawsuit alleging misfeasance in public office (aka the failure of public servants to perform their duty) could see the Commonwealth pay damages if it is successful. 

Want the lowdown on defamation or the Robodebt royal commission? We have some Squiz Shortcuts for that.

Australian News Crime

China’s economic recovery stalls

New data shows the world’s 2nd-largest economy is struggling to recover, even after pandemic restrictions were lifted. In March, China’s economic managers set a growth target of 5%, up from 3% in 2022 – a sign that was interpreted as determination to get things back on track. But that goal is looking increasingly doubtful because when it comes to inflation, China’s got the opposite problem of Australia and so many developed nations… Data shows that China’s consumer price growth was at 0% in June – down from the puny 0.2% in May. And annual producer prices dropped 5.4% in June – their 9th consecutive monthly drop and the steepest since 2015. Long story short, China’s deflation has analysts worried because the key to economic growth is demand, which isn’t present in their massively important economy ATM. It’s yet another thing to keep an eye on…

Business & Finance World News

Stitching together some Threads policy

It’s not been a full week since Meta’s Twitter-esque social platform Threads launched, but it’s already surpassed 100 million users. And to rub it in, it’s “mostly organic” – that is, Meta didn’t spend a cent to get the users onboard, according to boss Mark Zuckerberg’s Thread on Monday. For comparison, Twitter had about 250 million daily active users in November last year, but reports say that number has gone down since Elon Musk’s takeover, and its traffic has dropped further since Threads’ debut. As for how Threads will handle sensitive content, Meta’s Australian public policy boss Josh Machin addressed a Senate Inquiry yesterday. He said government-affiliated accounts will be identified as such, following the outcry over Twitter’s blue tick removals earlier this year. Meta’s also vowed to crack down on misinformation about the upcoming Voice to Parliament referendum on its platforms.

AusPol Technology

Where are all the supercentenarians?

That’s the question researchers are asking after a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found the average Aussie is living longer than ever – but few are making it past 110yo. Over the past 5 decades, life expectancy for Aussie men has improved by 13.7 years to 81.3yo and by 11.2 years for women to 85.4yo. And while more Aussies than ever are living past 100yo, the majority of centenarian deaths occurred between the ages of 100-104yo, with the number of ‘supercentenarian’ deaths barely budging over the decades. The report doesn’t answer the question it raised but notes that some experts reckon the human lifespan is “unlimited”, though it’s a heavily contentious issue. It pointed to Japan as an example, whose population of supercentenarians increased from 22 to 146 in the decade to 2019. And note: the first trick to cracking 110yo is being a woman

Australian News Health

The ‘perfect’ swear word has been found…

…and to manage your expectations, it’s probably not what you think. Mathematics student Sophie Maclean has created a code that has come up with a brand new swear. After it was fed a list of 45 existing curses, the word it spat out was ‘banger’, or ‘ber’ for short. Yep, maths reckons the perfect swear is a word that means a sausage or song that’s good to dance to, depending on which generation you ask… If you’re scratching your head, the code created the word after calculating the likely characteristics of the perfect swear word. It determined it was likely to begin with ‘b’ and end in ‘-er’, and it filled out the letters in between. And when the code wasn’t fed a list of existing swears, it came up with the word  ‘ditwat’. Maclean admitted ‘banger’ isn’t as fun to say as other profanities – but at least it’s kid-friendly…

Quirky News

Apropos of nothing

If you’re the kind of ditwat who cries over chopped onions, those days could be over… A new tearless variety has started appearing in Woolies supermarkets in some eastern states this week. They cost a bit more, but at least you can skip the goggles…

Sriracha fans might get teary on hearing that the popular hot sauce is in short supply due to chilli crop failures. Bottles of the spicy stuff are currently selling for up to US$80 a pop on eBay. It might be a good time to secure your fridge…

And airplane food gets a bad rap, but a United Airlines business traveller’s flight from Houston to Amsterdam was diverted to Chicago because his first meal choice was unavailable. Just wait until Jerry Seinfeld hears about it…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30pm (AEST) – Actor/Producer Bryan Brown addresses the National Press Club – Canberra

1.10pm (AEST) – Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe gives a speech at the Economic Society of Australia conference – Brisbane

8.05pm (AEST) – State of Origin Game 3 – Sydney

10.00pm (AEST) – Women’s Ashes – First ODI – Australia v England – Bristol

Overnight – Emmys nominations announced – US

ABS Data Release – Overseas Arrivals and Departures, May; Building Activity, March

AIHW Release – MyHospitals: safety and quality update

A birthdays for women’s rights activist Malala Yousafzai (1997)

Anniversary of
• the marriage of King Henry VIII to his 6th and final wife, Catherine Parr (1543)
• Britain’s King Charles II ratifying the Habeas Corpus Act giving those under arrest the right to be brought before a judge or into court (1679)
• the death of US Founding Father Alexander Hamilton (1804)
• legislation being passed that gives women 21yo and older the right to vote in Aussie federal elections (1902)

Squiz the Day

The Squiz Archive

Want to check out Squiz Today from the archive?

Get the Squiz Today newsletter

It's a quick read and doesn't take itself too seriously. Get on it.