Squiz Today / 06 February 2024

Squiz Today – 6 February

Squiz Today Podcast

Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“Refund, refund, refund!”

Chanted thousands of angry Hong Kong football fans after Lionel Messi didn’t take the field during a friendly between Inter Miami and the Hong Kong XI… The superstar was out with a “hamstring strain” leaving the club begging for “forgiveness” all the way to the airport…

An Aussie is sentenced to death

The Squiz

Five years after being imprisoned in a Chinese jail, Australian writer and democracy activist Dr Yang Hengjun has been sentenced to death by a Beijing court. The ruling made public yesterday includes a caveat that, pending Dr Yang’s “good behaviour”, the sentence can be converted to a life sentence after 2 years. The reaction here in Oz came in strong and fast – Foreign Minister Penny Wong called it a “harrowing” and “appalling” decision. She says the government “will be communicating our response in the strongest terms”, including summoning China’s ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian for a ‘please explain’ yesterday afternoon.

What led up to this?

Dr Yang was arrested at China’s Guangzhou airport in 2019, and while the charges against him have never been disclosed, the Chinese Government accused him of spying – something he denies. His trial was then held behind closed doors in 2021, with Yang having limited access to lawyers. The words “political persecution” have been used by his supporters, who say he’s being punished by China “for his criticism of human rights abuses in China and his advocacy for universal values such as human rights, democracy and the rule of law”. Since his arrest, the Australian Government has called on China to apply basic standards of justice and procedural fairness in his case, and there was renewed hope last October when fellow Aussie Cheng Lei (who was detained under similar circumstances) was released, but it was to no avail… 

So what’s next?

Australia will continue its advocacy for Dr Yang, and reports say that there may be avenues for him to appeal the sentence up until February 15. But supporters say his poor health might prevent that… “Five years of arbitrary detention and torture have taken a heavy toll on his health. He is now critically ill,” friend Dr Feng Chongyi says. For the Coalition’s part, Foreign Affairs spokesperson Simon Birmingham said the situation was “a terrible reminder of the stark differences between our systems of government and systems of justice”. Daniela Gavshon from Human Rights Watch agreed, saying his death sentence “on such scant information is deeply worrying.” Beyond that, experts say it is a blow to Oz-China relations, which have been warming up. To keep that thaw going, it was noted that Wong has stopped short of recalling Australia’s ambassador to China.

Australian News World News

Squiz the Rest

Moving forward with finances

Money matters are in focus today with the Albanese Government’s proposed changes to the Stage 3 tax cut legislation to be put before the House of Reps. Reports say the Coalition is tipped to support the plan, while the Greens are still deciding, but either way, PM Anthony Albanese wants it sorted by Easter. Albanese copped a lot of flak after breaking his election promise to leave the tax cuts be, but the changes look set to pass with polling showing they’re popular with voters. Meanwhile in Sydney, the Reserve Bank board is expected to leave interest rates on hold as their new format 2-day meeting wraps up today. Whatever happens, Governor Michele Bullock will front a press conference this arvo to explain as part of moves to improve transparency.


King Charles and the Big C

That’s news that’s just breaking this morning… Buckingham Palace said this morning in a statement that King Charles has been diagnosed with cancer and he began “regular treatments” on Monday. The type of cancer hasn’t been revealed, but it’s not prostate cancer. The statement says it was found during his recent treatment in hospital when he received treatment for an enlarged prostate. The King plays an important role in terms of the functioning of government as the head of state – there’s plenty of paperwork that comes with the job… He’ll keep doing that, but he is putting off his public engagements and other senior royals are expected to stand in for him during his treatment. King Charles “is grateful to his medical team for their swift intervention”, and “he remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible”.

World News

Big stakes for B-R-S 

After losing one of the longest-running defamation cases in Australia, former soldier Ben Roberts-Smith is back in court trying to overturn the original decision. The Victoria Cross recipient had his case against the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age/The Canberra Times dismissed back in June after Justice Anthony Besanko found the publisher had proved he was a war criminal. Roberts-Smith’s lawyers are arguing the judge made a legal error in finding him involved in the murder of 4 unarmed prisoners in Afghanistan. Yesterday, Bret Walker SC told the hearing the difference between lawful and unlawful killings in war was “at the heart” of the case. The original defamation hearing lasted 110 days and cost $25 million in legal fees. This case before the full bench of the Federal Court is expected to last 10 days – with some parts involving national security heard behind closed doors.

Australian News

New hope for Alzheimer’s patients

With one in 10 Aussies over 65yo affected by Alzheimer’s, China is playing a lead role in finding the answers with Japanese drug company Eisai preparing to roll out its drug Leqembi to 1,500 people. Leqembi (aka Lecanemab) is not a cure – instead, it slows the disease’s progression giving people more time to live independently. It’s not yet approved for use in Oz, but is under consideration by the TGA… So far, only China, the US and Japan have given it the green light, but with millions of people suffering from the disease globally, the prospective market is huge making other drug companies keen to join the race. That includes America’s Eli Lilly which is developing a similar treatment called Donanemab, which it’s also trialling on 1,500 volunteers in China, Taiwan, South Korea and Europe.


Big night for the music

The hits keep rolling for Taylor Swift, who managed to make Grammys history as the only artist to ever win 4 Album of the Year awards. And she previewed next year’s potential winner by announcing her upcoming album to be released on 19 April… The other big winner from the night was Miley Cyrus, who went from zero Grammy wins to 2, taking out Best Pop Solo Performance and Record of the Year for her banger single Flowers. And Billie Eilish won Song Of The Year with her Barbie hit What Was I Made For?. Kylie Minogue – what a legend – took out Best Pop Dance Recording for Padam Padam, while Killer Mike had a rollercoaster night, winning 3 rap-related Grammys before being detained by police… The night also featured performances from legends Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, and Tracey Chapman with Luke Combs. And did we mention the fashion?


Apropos of Nothing

Parisians have said a big “non” to big cars in the city of lights by approving a plan to triple the parking rates for SUVs… Drivers of the gas-guzzlers will now have to fork out $30 an hour to leave their vehicles on the city streets. Oh well, C’est la vie…

True crime fans can bid on 2 prison letters written by London gangster Reggie Kray – one half of the infamous Kray twins as immortalised by Tom Hardy in Legend – when they go under the hammer next week. Which seems appropriate given their fondness for hammers

If you’ve got a Crown-shaped hole in your soul, Netflix will heal you in the autumn when it’s set to release Scoop, detailing Prince Andrew’s disastrous BBC interview. The first photos of Gillian Anderson playing reporter Emily Maitlis have us royally excited…

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

2.30pm (AEDT) – RBA interest rate decision

2.30pm (AEDT) – Men’s Cricket – One Day International Series Australia v the West Indies – Game 3 – Canberra 

3.30pm (AEDT) – RBA Governor Michele Bullock will hold a press conference about the latest decision, broadcast live on their website

Federal Parliament sits for the first time in 2024 – both Houses (until February 8) – Canberra

ABS Data Release – Retail Trade, December 2023 

Waitangi Day in New Zealand – anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi (1840)

Safer Internet Day

International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation

The birthdays of Ronald Reagan (1911) and Bob Marley (1945)

Anniversary of: 

  • Queen Elizabeth II marking her Platinum Jubilee – 70 years on the throne (2022)
  • the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria killing more than 50,000 people (2023)

2.00am (AEDT) – The Democratic presidential primaries continue in Nevada

Squiz the Day

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