Wednesday, 26 June - Leavin’ on a jet plane

Good morning, it’s Wednesday, 26 June. In your Squiz Today…

  • Assange flies towards freedom

  • Drama in the Senate

  • And a survival story with an Aussie twist…

🎧 Listen to the podcast

🤓 This email will take you 6 minutes to read

Squiz the Weather

Squiz Sayings

“They come around pretty quick, the T20 World Cups, every 2 years.”

Said Aussie men’s cricket veteran Josh Hazlewood after our last hope of remaining in this year’s T20 tournament was dashed yesterday. We've only won one of these trophies since they started in 2007, so we'll hit 'em for 6 next time...

Assange’s flight to freedom

The Squiz

After more than 5 years in London’s Belmarsh prison - and more than 14 years of legal proceedings - Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been released after securing a plea deal with the US Justice Department. The 52yo will plead guilty to a single criminal charge of conspiracy to obtain and disclose US Defence information - not the 18 espionage-related charges originally brought against him after he released thousands of classified US Government documents in 2010. But he’s not back in Australia yet - he’s been sent to the tiny US island territory of Saipan, about 3,000km north of Cape York and east of the Philippines, for a court hearing this morning. 

That’s huge…

Yep, and his family is extremely happy. Yesterday, his wife Stella posted a video of Assange boarding a plane, saying “words cannot express” their gratitude to everyone who has “mobilised for years to make this come true”. His brother said Assange has known for weeks that he could be released. "He's been very excited, a little bit anxious, mostly excited about being free after all these years", he said. And his parents spoke of their relief. "This shows the importance and power of quiet diplomacy", his mother Christine said. Here’s a timeline of how it all came about, but long story short, Assange was indicted in 2019 and faced up to 175 years in prison if convicted. He and his supporters have long argued the case against him was politically motivated and against free speech. Over the years, multiple Australian Governments have pressured the US to drop the charges - and here we are.

So it’s all done and dusted?

Not quite… Yesterday, PM Anthony Albanese called the deal “a welcome development” but acknowledged that “these proceedings are crucial and delicate”. Stephen Smith, Australia’s High Commissioner to the UK, is accompanying Assange to Saipan - which reports say was at Assange’s request due to the territory's proximity to Australia. Reports say he'll be sentenced to 62 months in jail for the criminal charge he'll plead guilty to - that's the time he's already served in the UK, so he’s expected to be freed immediately. As for when he’ll be back on home soil, insert shrugging lady emoji… Assange’s father John Shipton expects it to be sooner rather than later. And from there, “Julian will be able to enjoy ordinary life with his family and his wife Stella, that's my understanding,” Shipton said. We will see…

To learn more about the legal saga against Assange, check out this Squiz Shortcut. And to hear more about the cases for and against him, this News Club episode might be of interest.

On the plane to Paris 🛫 

The Olympics bring a whole lot of good news and this week’s dose was champion skateboarder Arisa Trew qualifying for Paris 2024. If she scores a medal at the games, she’ll be Australia’s youngest-ever Olympic medalist, breaking a record that’s been held since 1956.

Over on our Squiz Kids podcast, Arisa took some time out of her hectic training schedule to answer questions put to her by the kids of Australia… Expect some technical skateboard chat, her thoughts on Vegemite, and how she manages training alongside school work. We reckon it’s a great episode to listen to with your kid or grandkid.

Squiz the Rest

A drama in the Senate

First-term Western Australian Labor Senator Fatima Payman caused a stir yesterday by crossing the floor to vote against her party over a motion calling for Palestinian statehood. She’s the first Labor politician to cross the floor in 18 years, and it’s notable because it goes against party rules. That means she faces potential expulsion from the Labor Party…. As for what she voted for, the Greens had moved a motion calling for the Senate to recognise the state of Palestine, and although Labor and the Coalition were open to it, they’d proposed amendments that the Greens wouldn’t agree to. Payman, who’s been vocal about calling for more support for Palestinians, said it was “the most difficult decision” she’s made - but still hopes to remain in the Labor Party. And while expulsion isn’t mandatory, it’s now up to the party’s caucus to decide…

A verdict but still no answers

Former Jetstar pilot Greg Lynn was found guilty of murdering Carol Clay and acquitted over Russell Hill’s death yesterday, but details about evidence the jury didn’t hear have raised new questions… The bodies of 73yo Clay and 74yo Hill were found at a campsite in Victoria's High Country in 2020. Nearly 2 years later, Lynn was charged with their murders, and prosecutors said the deaths occurred following a dispute, while the defence claimed it was all an accident. But as soon as the verdict was given, thousands of secret recordings, police interviews, details about Lynn’s character and allegations from his first wife’s family that he was responsible for her death were revealed. As a result, reports say there are lingering questions about what really happened, and Lynn could face further charges over his “despicable” decision to burn the couple’s bodies. The case is due back in court on 19 July to set a date for sentencing.

How the mighty have fallen

Just last week we discussed how AI computer chip maker Nvidia had become the world’s most valuable company worth $5.1 trillion, but yesterday it came down a notch with $646 billion wiped from its value. Nvidia’s stock price fell 6.7% yesterday - its 3rd day in a row of drops on the stock market - marking the biggest loss of any company in just 3 days. It means that rival tech firms Microsoft and Apple are back on top as the world’s 2 most valuable companies. As for what’s caused the decline, experts say it's “plausible that investors began suffering from AI fatigue”. One thing people aren’t tired of is ultra-fast fashion, as Temu has become one of Australia’s top online retail brands. It’s overtaken Everyday Rewards, Flybuys, Coles Group, Google and Bunnings Warehouse to reach the 5th spot, with Amazon still on top.

Keen for more? Check out our News Club interview with the Australian Financial Review's fashion editor Lauren Sams.

To the moon and back

Space enthusiasts are giddy with excitement as China’s lunar probe has returned to Earth carrying the first-ever samples from the far side of the moon, weighing about 2kg. Scientists are hanging out to get their hands on the soil and rocks from the Chang’e-6 as they may contain traces of ice, which can be harvested for water, oxygen, and hydrogen to reveal secrets about how planets are formed. The re-entry capsule landed in Inner Mongolia and is being transported to researchers in Beijing. The trip was China’s 6th to the lunar surface and its second to the distant and mysterious far side, which faces away from Earth. Experts have hailed it as “a great achievement” due to the tricky nature of the 2-month mission. China's President Xi Jinping called to congratulate the team behind the mission and said he hopes they can carry on exploring deep space.

Move over Bear Grylls…

A 34yo man who went missing on a hike in Northern California's Santa Cruz Mountains has been found safe and well, and he’s shared how he stayed alive during his 10 days in the wilderness. Lukas McClish left for a 3-hour hike on 11 June with not much aside from the clothes on his back and became disoriented when he realised familiar landmarks had been burnt by recent wildfires. And while that might sound traumatic, McClish kept his cool and even unknowingly adopted an Aussie move, the shoey - using his shoes to collect and drink water daily. He was “tired and a little sore” by the time rescue teams found and reunited him with his family, but says overall, it was “an awesome experience”. Talk about a glass-half-full… He even had a run-in with a mountain lion at one point, but reckons, “it was cool, it kept its distance”. May we all be as unflappable…

Apropos of Nothing - Tassie edition

Hobart’s MONA is playing dirty in its ongoing battle for a women-only space by taking it to the toilets… The gallery has hung several priceless Picasso paintings that used to be displayed in its ladies' lounge in a bathroom. It's a very posh way to pee

Denmark’s Australian Queen Mary looked like any other proud mum as she kept it casual while with her family to celebrate her eldest son Christian’s high school graduation. The 18yo heir is next in line to the throne and received a snazzy hat as part of the ceremony…

You'd be hard-pressed to find 2 places less alike, but US mag People mistook Tasmania for Tanzania after spying Bindi Irwin’s travel pics on socials. The celeb rag posted the gaffe to its 9.7 million Facebook followers, which is some decent accidental exposure for the Apple Isle. Luckily “Mt Kilimanjaro” - or Cradle Mountain to locals - was born ready for its close-up…

Squiz the Day

8.40am (AEST) - Taronga Zoo’s new amphibian and reptile conservation centre opens - Sydney

9.00am (AEST) - BHP will host an investor roundtable on decarbonisation - online

12.30pm (AEST) - Prof. David Thomas from University of New South Wales will address the National Press Club about cancer treatment - Canberra

2.00pm (AEST) - YouTube star Mr Beast will meet and greet fans at Sydney Opera House

6.00pm (AEST) - Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong is set to speak at the CEDA State of the Nation dinner - Canberra

6.00pm (AEST) - Skills and Training Minister Brendan O'Connor will launch the Greater South East Melbourne Jobs and Skills Roadmap - Canberra

8.05pm (AEST) - State of Origin Game 2: New South Wales Blues v Queensland Maroons - Melbourne and watch on 9Now

ABS Data Release - Monthly Consumer Price Index indicator, May 

Birthdays for Nick Offerman (1970), Aubrey Plaza (1984) and Ariana Grande (1993)

Anniversary of:

  • the invention of the toothbrush in China using boar bristles (1498)

  • the signing of the UN Charter (1945)

  • Elvis Presley’s last ever performance (1977)

  • the publication of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997)

  • Kevin Rudd ousting Julia Gillard to become PM for the second time (2013)