Squiz Today / 19 October 2017
Squiz Today – Thursday, 19 October
The future is here. We know that because delicious Mexican food is dropping from the sky, just like we’d imagined it would. Guzman y Gomez is trialling delivery drones in trend-forward Canberra, and there are plans to expand to Sydney next year. It’s genius. Because whether you like burritos or not, who can honestly say they won’t try this?
INCREASING SPY THREATS REVEALED
As far as annual reports go, this year’s effort by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation is the equivalent of a gripping spy thriller. ASIO is the mob that assesses threats of terrorism and espionage and collects foreign intelligence in Australia. Stealing the headlines was the revelation that; “we continued to identify and investigate harmful espionage and foreign interference directed against Australia.” But; "due to the scale of the activities directed at Australia, we could not investigate all activities of potential concern.” Yikes.
THAT SOUNDS QUITE ALARMING…
Told you it was a page-turner. In short, besides the usual spy stuff, over the last 12 months, the report says it's been overwhelmed by increased activities including:
• Foreign powers “clandestinely seeking to shape the opinions of members of the Australian public, media organisations and government officials" to "advance their country's own political objectives".
• Foreign intelligence services are targeting "a range of Australian interests, including clandestine acquisition of intellectual property, science and technology, and commercially sensitive information.”
• And, we’re being hacked via the “exploitation of the internet and information technology.“
WHAT ELSE DID THE REPORT SAY?
Australia is susceptible to “low-capability” terrorism (like someone driving a car into a crowd) and three planned attacks were foiled between July 2016 and June 2017. ASIO director-general Duncan Lewis is also worried about terrorism in South-East Asia, particularly from Islamic State. He’s putting a lot of work into resourcing given the pressure the agency is under, and that might be helped with new technologies. On that note, we think it might have sneakily unveiled a new weapon on page nine of the report (page 17 of the pdf). Behold the spy wallaby (or kanga, we’re not an expert…).
PRESENTED BY COMMTRACT
Thing to know: some smart Aussies have created the world’s first marketplace for communications. How cool is that!
So if you’re a comms professional/freelance journo/social or digital expert/event manager/photographer/videographer etc, you might find your next project on Commtract. Or if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew at work and need some help, you can post a project and get access to the best talent out there.
SQUIZ THE REST
CROWN ACCUSED OF POKIES TAMPERING
Tassie independent MP Andrew Wilkie yesterday used parliamentary privilege (where pollies get to say whatever they want with no fear of legal recriminations) to make serious allegations against Crown Resorts. Crown is part-owned by James Packer and operates two casinos in Melbourne and Perth. Wilkie says three former staff members have come forward to say poker machines in Melbourne were tampered with to reduce payouts and to dodge the financial transaction reporting laws. Crown said the claims are rubbish. Reports say authorities are annoyed with Wilkie because he's blown apart their investigations. And the market said "not impressed". Crown's share price finished yesterday down almost 4.5%.
FORMER RIO EXECS ACCUSED OF FRAUD
America’s Securities Exchange Commission (kinda like our corporate watchdog ASIC but with teeth) yesterday charged yuuuge miner Rio Tinto's former CEO, Tom Albanese, and chief financial officer, Guy Elliott, with fraud. It relates to the $4.7 billion acquisition of Riversdale Mining, an Australian-listed company with what was thought to be prime coal deposits in Mozambique. It didn't go well, and the SEC says the men didn't do their duty to inform the market in time. Worse, it claims they misled investors for a quite a long time. If found guilty, the personal penalty for the two is stiff. They say the claims are baseless. Rio will pay the UK's Financial Conduct Authority a cool $46 million after slapping the miner with its largest-ever fine over the same issue. ASIC - with a new boss announced this week - is still investigating.
ISLAMIC STATE ALL BUT GONE FROM RAQQA
Islamic State has all but been defeated in their self-claimed capital of Raqqa, Syria. While the US stopped short of declaring victory, and there are reports of small pockets of remaining IS fighters, it’s a significant milestone for US-backed forces. It’s understood that IS fighters have booby-trapped the city with devices that could take years to remove. After being pushed out of Mosul in July, IS is “reeling but it is not vanquished” and now controls just a fraction of the territory it had before. An incredible picture story is here.
HOPES FADE FOR SIX MEN AT SEA
Six men are still missing after their trawler, named Dianne, overturned off the central Queensland coast on Monday night. One man was found on the hull of the overturned boat on Tuesday. Unfortunately, conditions for the search have been dreadful with 3-metre waves and high winds. Police said the chances of survival were remote. "The best case scenario is that we find six people in a life raft. That's what we're aiming for at the moment, but it’s not looking real promising,” police said. That's because there’s no indication the raft was deployed. Their poor families and friends.
STORY OF LINCOLN WINS THE BOOKER
Author George Saunders became the second American to win the prestigious Man Booker prize for fiction for his novel Lincoln in the Bardo. Described as “original" and "innovative”, the novel tells the story of a single night when Abraham Lincoln visited the tomb of his young son. "Thank you for this great honour which I hope to live up to with the rest of my work, for the rest of my life," Saunders said.
EDINBURGH’S TOP POOCH
With all this heavy news, forgive this folly. Edinburgh this week launched its list of 101 noteworthy things and the winner of the people's choice is a statue of the fabled dog, Greyfriars Bobby. Legend has it that he spent 14 years faithfully sitting by his master's grave. "Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all," says his tombstone. The dog is famous - he has a pub named after him, and he’s inspired two movies. Makes us wonder what our little buddy is doing more to earn his keep…
SQUIZ THE DAY
7.30am - Australian Industry Group Energy Breakfast with PM Malcolm Turnbull - National Press Club, Canberra
ABS Data Release - Labour Force, September
Winston Peters, New Zealand First leader, is expected to announce his choice of coalition partner to form government in New Zealand
Diwali - a festival of lights celebrated by Hindu, Jain and Sikh religions
30th anniversary of the 1987 Wall Street stock market crash - the Dow Jones industrial average fell 22.6% – its biggest drop in history
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