Squiz Today / 23 August 2023

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 23 August

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Squiz Today Podcast

News for your ears.

Today’s listen time: 9.30 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“This is everything I’ve been working towards.”

Says convicted felon Billy McFarland, who’s just announced that tickets to Fyre Festival 2 – a luxury music festival – are now on sale. The first attempt ended in scandal, and given there is currently no lineup/venue/set date, a few people might be asking some questions…

India shoots for the moon


India is aiming to become the fourth nation to successfully land on the moon tonight – that would see it join the US, China, and the Soviet Union (now Russia) in reaching the moon in one piece. The Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander was launched on 14 July and is scheduled to reach the moon’s surface tonight at about 10:34pm AEST – provided all goes smoothly. If you’re thinking, “didn’t I hear a moon story already this week?” – that would be Russia’s Luna-25, which crashed on Monday. India has also had its own failures… The Chandrayaan-2’s thrusters were slightly off during a 2019 attempt, resulting in a crash into the surface. Neither Russia nor India’s were/are crewed – the last trip involving people was NASA’s Apollo 17 mission in 1972… 


India’s spacecraft is shooting to be the first to land in the moon’s southern polar region, a location that scientists hope will contain traces of ice. That’s important because moon water could be used for drinking, cooling equipment, breathing, and making rocket fuel for future missions farther into the solar system. And India’s mission isn’t for the faint-hearted… The moon’s south pole – aka the bits not visible from Earth – gets very little sunlight, and the Chandrayaan-3 is scheduled to land in a location just as the sun hits that spot. The lander contains a solar-powered rover vehicle that will explore the surface for 2 weeks before the sunlight disappears, marking the end of the rover and the mission. 


Two reasons: the mission is a point of national pride, and Indian PM Narendra Modi also hopes it will spur on a private space industry with a bigger slice of the pie that’s being grown by billionaires like Elon Musk (SpaceX), Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic) and Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin). On the launch of the Chandrayaan-3 back in July, Modi said the craft would “carry the hopes and dreams of our nation”, and he will be at the control centre as it attempts to land. Note: he’s probably hoping he won’t have to comfort the space agency’s chief like last time… Heading into a big day, Indian Space Research Orgnaisation’s chairman Sreedhara Somanath said he’s confident and “everything has been all fine so far”. Fingers crossed… 

Space World News

Squiz the Rest

California mops up

The clean-up has begun in California after Tropical Storm Hilary drenched the south of the state with record-breaking rain. Los Angeles County received 177mm (a bit under half its annual rainfall), forcing some residents to take to their roofs to escape the rising water. Desert resort city Palm Springs got 76mm (as much as it gets in some years…), cutting off roads and power supplies. So far, no deaths have been reported in the US, and one man died in Mexico, where Hilary first made landfall. The weakening storm is moving northwest and heavy rain is set for Nevada and Utah. And in Hawaii, President Joe Biden has toured wildfire-damaged Maui, where at least 115 people died and 850 are missing. “The country grieves with you, stands with you and will do everything possible to help you recover,” Biden said.

Environment & Science World News

A big sentence for a big tax fraud

Adam Cranston, son of former Tax Office Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston, has been handed a maximum jail term of 15 years for his part in a $105 million tax evasion scam. The 36yo was one of 5 people – including his sister Lauren, who’s already been sentenced to 8 years in prison – found guilty in March of taking part in the tax fraud/money laundering scheme. As you can probably imagine, the scam was complex, but to explain… The group used their business known as Plutus Payroll, among others, to skim more than $105 million that was earmarked for the Tax Office, and they spent millions on cars, homes, and other fancy stuff. Justice Anthony Payne yesterday said Cranston “was involved in the inner workings of the conspiracy and knew at all times that Plutus was not legitimate or profitable”. Michael Cranston is no longer at the Tax Office – he was not involved in any of it. 

Business & Finance Crime

An accused coup leaders update

Starting with former US President Donald Trump…  He will need to cough up US$200,000 after the judge in Georgia’s election interference case set his bail ahead of the Republican presidential frontrunner’s scheduled arrest in the next few days. Trump will hand himself in, and with his bail paid he’ll remain free so long as he doesn’t threaten any witnesses. Trump has called the case a “WITCH HUNT”. Note: the first debate amongst Republican candidates for the presidential nomination is tomorrow morning our time – and Trump says he won’t be attending, unless he changes his mind… And then there’s Russian Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin who has popped up in what looks to be Africa following his attempted mutiny in June. Prigozhin posted a video talking up his mercenaries, saying the militia “makes Russia even greater on all continents.” It’s his first video address since he challenged President Vladimir Putin’s authority. 

Crime World News

Thailand decides, sort of…

Over 3 months after Thailand’s general election, the country finally has a new Prime Minister. The big winner is Srettha Thavisin, a former property tycoon and a leader of the populist Pheu Thai party, which finished second in the election. Coming first in that election was the youth-led Move Forward party, though their leader Pita Limjaroenrat was blocked from the top job by a conservative Thailand parliament and its entrenched military senators. Srettha’s ascension marked a dramatic day in Thai politics, with the former PM and Pheu Thai politician, Thaksin Shinawatra, flying back to the country where he was deposed in a 2014 military coup. Thaksin was greeted by crowds at the airport before handing himself in to prison to serve time for convictions he’s said are politically motivated. But the word is he won’t be there for long: Thaksin is expected to request and receive a royal pardon.

World News

Fennel velouté? Yes please…

Get your elastic-waisted dining-out pants on – Gourmet Traveller has named their best restaurants across the country. The overall ‘restaurant of the year’ is Anges in Brisbane. Head chef Ben Williamson said the gong was “unbelievable”, but his fully wood-fired restaurant looks like it turns out some pretty delicious morsels… Hugh Allen from Melbourne’s Vue de Monde won chef of the year, with Ollie Wong-Hee from Bar Heather in Byron Bay taking out the best new talent award. Gourmet Traveller editor Joanna Hunkin reckons that now is a good time for a fancy bite with the cost-of-living pressures meaning more venues are offering “casual entry points” for a seat at the table… Which is good because our going-out trackie dacks are pretty casual… 


Apropos of nothing

In a story not for those afraid of heights, 8 people, mostly children, were successfully rescued from a dangling cable car in Pakistan after spending 15 hours in the air. The photos are enough to make you queasy…

Hundreds of people have donned inflatable dinosaur outfits for the annual T-Rex World Championships – a 100-yard dash in Seattle. The winner was Ocean Kim, followed by Deno and Dino, with Rex Ray Machine coming in third. Last one to the finish goes extinct…

How quickly do you reckon you could shovel 500kg of coal? If you’re slower than 38 seconds then Matt Drysdale has you beat – he’s the winner of Moura Coal and Country Festival’s coal-shovelling comp. Only in Queensland…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

12.30pm (AEST) – Outgoing Chair at the Productivity Commission, Michael Brennan, addresses the National Press Club – Canberra

India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission to the south pole of the moon is expected to set down a lander and rover – although it might be beaten by Russian mission Luna-25…

Zimbabwean general election

ABS Data Release – Sexual harassment 2021-22 financial year; Sexual violence 2021-22 financial year; Physical violence 2021-22 financial year

Company Results – Domino’s Pizza; Iluka Resources; Santos; Woolworths Group; WiseTech Global

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition

National Flag Day in Ukraine

Anniversary of:
• the Battle of Stalingrad – 40,000 died in the WWII battle (1942)
• the World Wide Web being opened to the public (1991)
• the release of Jeff Buckley’s only studio album Grace (1995)
• Hurricane Katrina forming over the Bahamas, later becoming a category 5 hurricane that devastated the New Orleans area of the US (2005)
• the first use of the hashtag in a tweet by US product designer Chris Messina (2007)
• the birthdays of Gene Kelly (1912), River Phoenix (1970), and Kobe Bryant (1978)

Squiz the Day

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