Tuesday, 2 July - Try a little tenderness

Good morning, it’s Tuesday, 2 July. In your Squiz Today…

  • French voters send a message to Macron

  • Joe Biden fends off doubters

  • And how fancy’s your Olympics tracksuit?...

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Squiz Sayings

“It’s so much easier carting a hobby horse to an event.”

Said hobby horse riding enthusiast Coralie Kedzlie, who runs “horse courses” for humans, teaching them about dressage and jousting in an effort to get more people into the unusual sport. There might be some mucking about, but definitely no mucking out…

France’s rallying cry

The Squiz

The results from Sunday’s first round of voting in France’s snap election for the National Assembly - aka lower house - delivered a resounding win for the far-right National Rally (RN) and a sombre message for left/centrist parties. Turnout soared to 67% - which is a lot for a country without compulsory voting - the highest since the 1997 parliamentary election. A coalition of socialist and far left-wing parties came in second with roughly 28%, while President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance came in third with about 20%. Macron has now called for a “broad” alliance against the RN in the second round, calling the group “an unacceptable threat against which we have to fight.”

What do the results mean?

Whether RN can win an absolute majority - increasing its current 88 seats to at least 289 out of the 577 total - is uncertain, but they look set to become the largest voice in the lower house. The National Assembly is the most powerful of France’s 2 houses of parliament, having final say in the law-making process over the Senate. As Macron has only held about 250 seats since the last election in 2022, he’s already been unable to achieve much of his political agenda, and it could be even harder with RN having influence. But there are wider concerns as an RN majority would mark France’s first far-right government since Nazi occupation in World War II, with stringent policies on slashing immigration, cutting welfare, and reduced support for Ukraine/the Europe Union. But even if RN can’t get a majority, France’s government could be paralysed, with little to no legislation being passed.

But it’s not done and dusted…

About 70 seats have been won outright but the rest are TBD after a runoff vote this Sunday. Whatever happens, Macron will remain President until 2027, and almost certainly be forced to appoint Jordan Bardella as PM if RN get a majority. Given their opposing views, it’s what the French call “cohabitation” - aka parliament would implement policies that clash with Macron’s agenda and Bardella’s warned he’ll be “uncompromising”. That has many concerned about the RN’s anti-immigration eurosceptic policies, with frontwoman Marine Le Pen aligning her views with Vladimir Putin. And France’s role as the EU’s top military power could spell trouble… Traditionally the President oversees foreign policy, European affairs and defence but that isn’t enshrined in the constitution so RN could use a majority to wield significant power - meaning all eyes will be on France early next week…

Squiz the Rest

An age-old problem spells trouble

US President Joe Biden’s not just dealing with concerns about last week’s presidential debate within the Democratic Party… A new poll by US television network CBS and YouGov reckons 72% of the country’s registered voters do not believe 81yo Biden is mentally/physically fit enough to serve another 4 years in the White House. That’s higher than polls conducted before Thursday’s debate, where Biden at times struggled to form full sentences. He’s fended off calls to allow someone else to take over the Democratic presidential candidacy ahead of the 5 November election. And his family is standing by him… Meanwhile, Biden’s political rival Donald Trump is claiming another win overnight, with the US Supreme Court ruling that presidents have immunity from prosecution for “official acts” carried out while in office - dragging his federal election interference case out further.

Ushering in a new era

After being officially sworn in yesterday, Governor-General Sam Mostyn spoke for the first time in her new capacity as the King’s representative in Australia… She addressed politicians at Parliament House, and although we won’t go through her whole speech, the big takeaway was her call for optimism during “these testing times" in Australia and around the globe. Mostyn - a prominent businesswoman, lawyer, former AFL Commissioner and gender equality advocate - said throughout her career, she'd seen "how care can be an uplifting force" and urged us to have an "unstinting focus on kindness, care, and respect". On a personal note, Mostyn also vowed to be an "optimistic, modern, and visible" GG, saying her focus will be on addressing the challenges we face - things like “rising lack of respect for women”, “shrinking opportunities for some men” and “growing inequality”. 

Paying the price for education

International students considering Australia for their studies will have to weigh up paying the highest visa application fees in the world under Albanese government changes. The fees have been hiked 125%, from $710 to $1,600, with Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil saying it’s part of the government’s goal to “restore integrity” to our migration system. They’ve been cracking down on that after criticism that record migration was putting too much pressure on things like housing, after 548,800 people arrived Down Under in the 12 months to September 2023. But critics of the visa changes say they’re too heavy-handed and will push international students to places like Canada and the US - where visas are significantly cheaper. Former Immigration Department Deputy Secretary Abul Rizvi called it “really poor, short-term thinking”, saying “the people it will deter will tend to be good students with options”.

Getting nosey about our endangered critters

Scientists studying one of our most elusive (and cute) nocturnal marsupials, the greater bilby, say they aren’t only unique in their long-nosed looks - their genetics are also unusual. University of Sydney Professor Carolyn Hogg says bilbies have "the biggest genome of any marsupial", making them both "weird and cool" - which sounds about right… Genomes are a complete set of DNA blueprints found in an organism's cells - in this case, showing how bilbies have grown and evolved. That's important because they're endangered thanks to feral predators and have disappeared from 80% of the areas they once occupied. Hogg says the research is helping "maximise their genetic diversity". It's enough to make you sing… Speaking of, our endangered regent honeyeaters were in danger of forgetting their unique songs as their numbers also dwindled - but researchers say they’re rediscovering their voices

Prêt-à-Porter for Paris

We’re pretty pumped for the Olympics this month, especially as in true Parisian style, athletes from around the world will be better dressed than ever in "the most fashionable Olympics" with many countries having hot designers creating their looks. For us, local brand Sportcraft has revealed some iconic green and gold styles for the Opening Ceremony/formal uniforms while Japanese label Asics has made our event kits - which you can wear proudly as you scream Aussie, Aussie, Aussie... Team USA is dressed for the 9th time by Ralph Lauren, while Canada's got activewear powerhouse lululemon and the so-hot-right-now Left On Friday. And not to be outdone, hosts France have gone all out with Stéphane Ashpool’s bold take on the country’s flag, which got a très chic reveal at Paris Fashion Week. Let the games begin…

Apropos of Nothing - Hot music edition

A 70yo British woman has made $3,800 from selling her autograph book, 56 years after she got legendary rocker Jimi Hendrix to sign it. Sara Bland was just 14yo when she randomly came across the star in the UK country town of Ipswich. Sounds like some Voodoo Child

If Shania Twain’s Glastonbury Legends set wasn’t a big enough clue, country pop is taking over the charts. And with so much crossover between Nashville and other genres - think Taylor Swift and Beyoncé - we’re not sure how to describe our music tastes anymore…

And R&B star Usher received a lifetime achievement award at the 2024 BET Awards in LA, but at just 45yo he quipped it might have come a bit early saying, “I’m still running and gunning”. And he didn’t look out of place among all the hot young acts on the blue carpet

Squiz the Day

9.00am (AEST) - The Australian Local Government Association National General Assembly begins (on until 4 July) - Canberra

10.30am (AEST) - Skateboarding: Australia’s skateboarding team to be named for the Paris Olympics - Gold Coast

12.30pm (AEST) - Councillor Linda Scott from ALGA will address the National Press Club on 'Future-proofing local government in Australia: support, safety and sustainability' - Canberra

9.05pm (AEST) - Cycling: Tour de France stage 4, Pinerolo, Italy to Valloire, France (138km) and watch on SBS

AIHW Release - Australia's health report card

The shortlist for the 2024 Miles Franklin Literary Award will be announced

The Big Red Bash outback music festival kicks off with Tina Arena headlining (on until 4 July) - Birdsville 

World Sports Journalists Day

World UFO Day 

Birthdays for Larry David (1947), Lindsay Lohan (1986), and Margot Robbie (1990)

Anniversary of:

  • the deaths of Nostradamus (1566 - he should have seen that coming...), author Ernest Hemingway (1961) and James Stewart (1997)

  • US President Lyndon Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act into law (1964)

  • the rescue of 12 boys and their coach from a cave in Thailand after being trapped for 9 days (2018)