Squiz Today / 22 February 2023

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 22 February

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Squiz Today Podcast

We’ll catch you up. 

Today’s listen time: 9.40 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“Between October and December.”

Is when PM Anthony Albanese says the referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament will be held. We rarely vote in December these days, and with parliamentary sittings and school holidays, the hot tip is Saturday, 14 October. Note: we can’t predict what we’re having for lunch today so [insert shrugging lady emoji]…

Putin suspends a key nuclear treaty

Russia is suspending its participation in the New START nuclear nonproliferation agreement with America that placed “verifiable limits” on the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads held by the countries. “Our relations have degraded, and that’s completely and utterly the US’s fault,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his annual state of the nation address overnight. He added that Russia was also ready to resume nuclear weapons testing. “Of course, we will not do it first. But if the US conducts tests, we will do it as well.” And Putin says there will be no inspections of its nuclear arsenal – under the treaty, they are permitted to view each other’s weapons sites.

Look, it’s not a great development… The treaty limits both sides to 1,550 warheads on deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine ballistic missiles and heavy bombers. Note: ‘deployed’ just means they’re ready to use. It’s the last arms control agreement between the United States and Russia. The nations hold the world’s largest nuclear arsenals, and the deal gave some comfort after other nonproliferation agreements fell apart in recent years. But when it comes to New START, all has not been well for a while, with the US recently accusing Moscow of refusing to allow inspections on its territory. It’s not the first time since Russia launched its war on Ukraine that Putin has discussed the “increasing” threat of nuclear war. That’s why analysts like Andrei Kolesnikov say the move is dangerous because “we cannot predict how Putin will behave in the future and what is in his mind.”

More of the same stuff he’s been saying all year. He continues to frame the invasion of Ukraine as something Russia had to do because the West wanted “to end us, once and for all.” And he continues to paint Ukraine as being run by a “neo-Nazi regime”, forcing Russia to respond. What he didn’t talk about were the troubles Russia has had in carrying out the “special military operation”, including heavy troop losses and strategic blunders. This morning, US President Joe Biden responded with a speech in Poland saying the West was not plotting to attack Russia and that the war was never a necessity, but it is a tragedy. He accused Russia of crimes against humanity and “targeting civilians with death” – he says Ukrainian children have been stolen, and train stations, maternity wards, hospitals, schools and orphanages have been targetted. “Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia – never,” Biden said.

World News

Squiz the Rest

Albanese believes that AUKUS is the future

And that’s not a spin on a Whitney Houston classic… PM Anthony Albanese is speaking at the National Press Club today, focusing on national security issues. Reports this morning say he will make the case for the agreement with the US and UK and the need for nuclear-powered submarines because of the uncertainty in our region. He is also expected to give us a preview of the Defence Strategic Review handed in last week – it’s said to position AUKUS as crucial to our future security. “This will be the single biggest leap in our defence capability in our history. Yet AUKUS is about much more than nuclear submarines or even technological interoperability. AUKUS is about the future,” his draft speech says. Delivering his annual treat assessment last night, Mike Burgess, the boss of ASIO, said there has been a “distinct uptick” in spies targeting Australia’s defence industry since the announcement of AUKUS.

Australian News

PNG police negotiating with hostage captors

The Aussie academic and 3 local researchers who have been taken hostage in Papua New Guinea are being moved between locations as the armed criminals who took them to negotiate a payment for their release, local officials said yesterday. The anthropology professor (who hasn’t been named for “security reasons”) is a Kiwi citizen/permanent resident in Oz. He’s been in radio contact with local missionaries, who are working as intermediaries between authorities and the captors. PNG police say the criminals likely stumbled across the group “by chance” in the remote Highlands region, where they were carrying out a research project. “These are opportunists that have obviously not thought this situation through before they acted and have been asking for cash to be paid,” police chief David Manning said.

Australian News World News

Tassie’s jumping castle tragedy inquest stalls

It was almost the Chrissy holidays in 2021 when the nation was shocked by an accident at Tasmania’s Hillcrest Primary School, killing 6 children. And now, the coronial inquest has been put on indefinite hold after the state’s workplace safety regulator refused to hand over its findings. Along with the deaths, 3 students were seriously injured after a wind gust lifted a jumping castle and several Zorb balls (you know, those big inflatable spheres that people can get into and roll around) into the air during end-of-year celebrations. WorkSafe Tasmania is said to be considering the laying of criminal charges but is currently undertaking a 2nd investigation. Yesterday, coroner Olivia McTaggart said the regulator wouldn’t pass on its findings over concerns it could prejudice its ongoing investigations. Lawyers for the coroner and victims’ families are heading to the state’s Supreme Court in April to appeal for the documents’ release.

Australian News

Some more natural disaster updates

At least 6 people are confirmed dead and 294 injured after 2 more earthquakes hit Turkey and Syria yesterday morning. Measuring 6.4 and 5.8 magnitudes, the latest quakes weren’t as large as the one that killed more than 47,000 people on 6 February. But reports say rescuers have continued searching for people trapped under the rubble after weakened buildings collapsed in the latest quakes. One ray of light from the trauma: an orphaned baby born under the rubble in Syria 2 weeks ago has been adopted by her aunt and uncle. Closer to home, the recovery effort in New Zealand’s North Island is hampered by vast amounts of sediment left by ex-Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle drying into toxic dust. During the Kiwi Parliament’s first sitting day of the year yesterday, PM Chris Hipkins said the country needs to build back “better, safer and smarter” in the face of climate change.

World News

It pays to be not-so-smart

A new Swedish study has confirmed what many have long suspected: the highest-earning employees are not necessarily the smartest. Thanks to a trove of IQ data collected when Swedish men aged 18yo and over were required to do mandatory military service up until 2010, researchers were able to chase up 60,000 of those men to see what they had earned over the ensuing 11 years. The study did find a link between higher intelligence and higher income up to the modest salary of 600,000 Swedish kronor ($83,320) – but after that point, intelligence plateaued as income levels continued to rise. And the top 1% of earners scored slightly lower on the intelligence scale than those in the income tier directly below them. Researchers’ key takeout: career success “is more likely driven by family resources or luck than by ability”. So much for working smarter, not harder…

Business & Finance

Apropos of nothing

Things can only get feta for the judges on MasterChef India after they found themselves at the centre of a social media storm after allowing a vego contestant to use paneer cheese instead of salmon. It ain’t easy being cheesy…

The words ‘unusual’, ‘weather’ and ‘event’ have been thrown around a lot recently, but the remote outback town of Lajamanu in the Northern Territory takes the… fish? Experts say tornadoes whipped small fish out of rivers in a recent storm, causing them to fall on the town from the sky. The Weather Girls’ iconic song might need an update…

And if raining fish wasn’t enough, a photographer captured photos of a rare Aussie fish that can be seen ‘walking’ underwater on its ‘hands’. The critically endangered spotted handfish in Tassie’s Derwent River has pectoral fins that look like hands, and now we’ve officially heard it all…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30pm (AEDT) – PM Anthony Albanese to give a National Press Club address on national security – Canberra

7.10pm (AEDT) – Women’s Soccer – FFA Cup of Nations – Australia v Jamaica – Newcastle

Launceston Cup = a public holiday for the city

ABS Data Release – Wage Price Index, December quarter

Company Results – Woolworths; Rio Tinto; Domino’s Pizza; Flight Centre; Oz Minerals; Scentre Group; WiseTech Global

Financial Review Workforce Summit – Sydney

The Universities Australia Conference returns after a 2-year hiatus – Canberra (until 23 February)

Teal Ribbon Day for Ovarian Cancer

World Thinking Day

Ash Wednesday

Cat Day – Japan

Anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake (2011)

Birthdays for James Blunt (1974) and Drew Barrymore (1975)

Anniversary of:
• the British House of Lords ruling that authors do not have perpetual copyright (1774)
• Wildlife Warrior Steve Irwin’s birthday (1962)
• Scottish scientists announcing they have cloned an adult mammal, producing a lamb named ‘Dolly’ (1997)
• the Christchurch earthquake (2011)

Squiz the Day

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