Squiz Today / 18 December 2017
Squiz Today – Monday, 18 December
“Saturday, 19 May 2018”
That’s the date of Prince Harry’s and Meghan Markle’s wedding. We think Sharon Strezlecki would classify it a packet of BBQ Shapes and a bottle of Baileys kinda celebration.
OZ-BASED “LOYAL AGENT OF NORTH KOREA” CHARGED
A 59yo Sydney man has been charged with working as an economic agent of North Korea. It’s alleged that Chan Han Choi breached Australian and United Nations sanctions by generating income for the North Korean Government through the facilitation of illegal exports. Chan has been accused of attempting to broker the sale of missile components, software and expertise, as well as coal, oil and gemstones to international entities. It’s believed Chan, a South Korean who has been in Australia for 30 years and was working as a hospital cleaner, could have been acting as an agent since 2008.
Yep. It’s the first time a person has been charged under the Weapons of Mass Destruction Act in Australia. Federal Police say they're confident no weapons transactions took place but it could have been worth tens of millions of dollars had two attempts been successful. And there's no suggestion any missile components or weapons arrived in Australia. Chan is also accused of attempting to sell coal to entities in Indonesia, and Vietnam but police say their governments are not involved. But clearly Chan wasn't entirely unsuccessful – reports say he generated about $500,000 for the North Koreans and was in regular contact with high-level officials.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Chan did not apply for bail yesterday and will remain in custody until his next court hearing. Reports say the maximum penalty for the offences is 10 years in prison, but authorities are expected to lay more charges. In the meantime, expect Australia to receive international brownie points, particularly with countries like the US and Japan advocating for the enforcement of sanctions against North Korea.
BENNELONG STICKS WITH ALEXANDER
Coalition incumbent and former tennis great John Alexander won the weekend’s by-election in his seat of Bennelong with 55% of the two-party preferred vote. He registered a swing of almost 5% against him. Labor had hoped high-profile candidate Kristina Keneally would swing more of the vote towards them but claimed it was a great result that would see Bill Shorten elected PM with a 20+ seat majority if the result was reflected across the country. Putting disabled parking sticker-gate aside, PM Malcolm Turnbull was having none of it claiming the win was a strong endorsement of his government. So that’s it for the politics year, right? No way, José. Treasurer Scott Morrison is giving the mid-year economic update today, and there's talk of a ministerial reshuffle this side of a visit from Santa. Hang in there…
MELBOURNE’S MAYOR ACCUSED OF HARASSMENT
Allegations of harassment and indecent assault have been levelled against Melbourne's Lord Mayor Robert Doyle. He will take a month’s leave while an investigation is conducted. The accusations were made by Councillor Tessa Sullivan who was elected on the same ticket as Doyle in 2016. She resigned from the Melbourne City Council last Friday and made the complaint to the CEO. Doyle is a former leader of the Victorian Liberal Party.
CHRISTMAS PARTY ENDS IN TRAGEDY
Two women died and 17 people were injured when a balcony collapsed during a Tupperware Christmas party on Saturday night. Eve and Chris Nunn were hosting the party at their rented East Doncaster (Melbourne) home and reports say the group were on the balcony having a group photo taken when the floor gave out. Neighbours said the noise was like a tree being felled. Engineers say it should be a wake-up call on the need for regular structural checks.
SOUTH AFRICA’S RULING PARTY TO PICK PRESIDENTIAL SUCCESSOR
South Africa’s ruling ANC party will today announce its candidate to succeed current President Jacob Zuma at the 2019 general election (or possibly before). It’s predicted to be close with reformer Cyril Ramaphosa going in with a small lead over Zuma’s ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Jacob Zuma has been in power since 2009 and has been a figure of controversy and scandal. A proud polygamist with four wives and 21 children, he’s been accused of corruption, money laundering, and worse. Under Zuma, unemployment reached 30%, some 55% of South Africans live below the poverty line, and their economy is – excuse the technical term – stuffed.
THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE…
The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program. Sounds like some military thing for keeping tabs on North Korean missiles. Turns out it was a US Department of Defence operation collecting and analysing reported UFO sightings. For reals. The program ran until 2012 and cost US$22 million but found no conclusive evidence of “anomalous aerial vehicles” (aka UFOs). But this footage from the program shows something else. Spooky…
STAR WARS SMASHES BOX OFFICE… AGAIN
On the subject of alien life forms, the latest instalment in George Lucas’s intergalactic soapie, Star Wars: The Last Jedi smashed the weekend box office in the US and around the world. Variety says the newest addition to the spaced-out saga ranked as the second biggest opening weekend in celluloid history taking $US205, beaten only by its predecessor, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The first negative reviews started seeping onto the inter webs with purists complaining the 2017 version of the galaxy, far, far, away is far too PC to be either believable (because that's what you're looking for in a Star Wars movie...) or enjoyable. And at 2 hours and 33 minutes, all we can say if you’re determined to see it is: may the force be with you.
SQUIZ THE DAY
Treasurer Scott Morrison to announce the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO)
ABS Data Releases - Sales of New Motor Vehicles, November; Retirement and Retirement Intentions, July 2016 to June 2017
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