Squiz Today / 11 March 2022

Squiz Today – Friday, 11 March

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Squiz Today Podcast

The homestretch never sounded so informed. 

Today’s listen time: 9 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“Do you think there are more doors or wheels in the world?”

It was an innocent enough question to ask Twitter, but Kiwilander Ryan Nixon’s mates debate has gone viral. We’re doors all the way…

COVID is still here…

We know you know that… But after a blissful pause on the non-stop COVID conversation, the virus is back in the headlines. That’s because NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has warned that a new Omicron variant – which is thought to be about 25% more transmissible than the original – is becoming the state’s dominant strain. “People need to understand that while the community has gone to sleep on the virus, the virus hasn’t gone to sleep on the community,” he said yesterday.

BA.2, known as the ‘stealth’ variant, has been circulating since late January, but scientists say there’s no evidence that it’s more severe. Hazzard said early modelling from UNSW showed daily cases could double in the next 6 weeks which would see 20,000-30,000 new cases a day in early April, before dropping off in May. And there’s concerns about more new variants on the horizon… Earlier this week, Professor Jodie McVernon from the Doherty Institute told the Financial Review to expect COVID to make a comeback in winter (paywall) – just as the population’s immune defences wane. Yesterday, NSW recorded 16,288 new cases – the highest number for almost 2 months. And Western Oz is preparing for a peak of circa 10,000 daily infections next week.

The new Omicron variant is also on the march in parts of Europe, the UK, and Asia. In the UK, cases are hovering around 67,000 per day, but the vaccination rate is high and daily death rates are low. In the US, cases are about 15% of the winter peak, and the death rate has halved since mid-January. And in Asia, South Korea leads the world with an average of 264,000 new daily cases. Which is why World Health Organization boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus yesterday warned that the pandemic is “far from over” as the official death count ticked over the 6 million mark since the start of the pandemic.

Australian News Health

Squiz the Rest

Vale Kimberly Kitching

Victorian Labor Senator Kimberly Kitching died yesterday of a suspected heart attack – she was 52yo. A federal upper house member since 2016, Kitching was from her party’s right faction, and leader Anthony Albanese said she was “determined to make an ongoing contribution in the Australian national interest.” And she wasn’t afraid to ruffle some feathers… A month ago, she used parliamentary privilege to name Chinese-Australian Chau Chak Wing as “the puppeteer” she believed was behind a foreign interference plot. She was also the key driver behind last year’s legislation for Australia’s version of the ‘Magnitsky laws’ that give the government powers to seize the assets of individuals who have committed human rights abuses around the world. Reports this morning say she had been stressed about her preselection, which was under pressure. Politicians across the philosophical spectrum remembered her last night as a great colleague and friend.


A flood of politics in the recovery

PM Scott Morrison has pushed back against the critics of the Federal Government’s response to the disasters in northern NSW and southeastern Queensland, saying flood mitigation was primarily a state responsibility. Justine Elliott, the Federal Labor MP for Richmond (an electorate that goes from the Queensland border to south of Ballina), blamed Team Morrison for a “humanitarian crisis” across the region. That’s sentiment Labor Leader Anthony Albanese is likely to pick up on during his visit to Lismore today. And Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (who we’ll gently note is the state’s Labor leader…) isn’t much interested in a national emergency declaration, saying it’s a week too late. Still, Morrison is pressing on… What went down in that region could be one of Australia’s worst-ever natural disasters. It’s already cost $480 million in government-funded emergency payments, and the insurance bill is expected to top $3 billion.

Australian News

Biden gives cryptocurrency a boost

US President Joe Biden has signed an eagerly-anticipated executive order directing the government’s agencies to come up with a plan to regulate cryptocurrency. The nation’s financial regulators will look at the risks and opportunities presented by digital currencies with a focus on consumer protection, national security and illegal activity. The Biden administration says it’s responding to the sector’s “explosive growth” in recent years, and as more countries look to regulate the sector and establish their own official digital currencies, it’s something the US will consider. The announcement was welcomed by investors, and the value of Bitcoin rose by 9% yesterday. #SquizShortcut


Djokovic shut out of the US

We’re still getting used to calling him the world #2 men’s tennis player. He’s probably getting used to it too… But Novak Djokovic yesterday confirmed he won’t be playing at the upcoming Indian Wells and Miami Open tournaments after US authorities barred him from entering the country over his (un)vaccination status. Djokovic tweeted that he was “automatically” in the draw for both tournaments, but “I knew it would be unlikely I’d be able to travel”. Djokovic has played one tournament this year due to his vaxx status, and last month, he lost his #1 ranking to Russian Daniil Medvedev after spending a record 361 weeks at the top. It’s expected the Serbian star will make an appearance at the Monte-Carlo Masters next month.


Scotland apologises for witchhunt

Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon has apologised for the persecution of more than 4,000 people – mostly women – who were accused of witchcraft between the 16th and 18th centuries. In what Sturgeon called “injustice on a colossal scale”, a law passed in Scotland in 1563 made witchcraft a capital offence. It reflected the superstition and panic that spread through parts of Europe and the US colonies at the time, including the city of Salem, Massachusetts. At least 2,500 people are believed to have been killed under Scottish law, with those accused often coerced into false confessions. The apology came after lobbying from a group called the Witches of Scotland, and Sturgeon said it was important to acknowledge injustice “no matter how historic”.

World News

Friday Lites – Three things we liked this week

The other week we came across this pic of Sarah Jessica Parker reading a book instead of watching a hockey game with Tom Hanks and thought it must be a great book… So we bought it, read it – and yeah, it’s a firm recommend. Astonish Me* by Maggie Shipstead – it may just get us back into novels again.

If you’re in the areas that have had a bit (or a lot) of rain in recent weeks, there’s a good chance you’ve also got mould. If it’s in your house, here’s the CSIRO’s tips. And if it’s eating your shoes and clothes, this is for you. Ugh…

If you know us, you’ll know one of our favourite things is edamame dip. We were lucky enough to have this version at The Paddington in Sydney – and we did it at home last weekend. The ingredients are at the supermarket, and it’s v good, quick and healthy. Tick, tick, tick and tick…

*Buy using this link, and The Squiz may earn a little commission.

Friday Lites

Do the Squiz Quiz

Reckon you know the name of the TV producer behind ‘Bridgerton’ and ‘Inventing Anna’ who got a Barbie doll made in her image this week? Have a crack at the Squiz Quiz.

Squiz the Day

National Cabinet meeting

Gabriel Boric assumes the presidency of Chile – the 36yo will become the country’s youngest-ever president and the 2nd youngest head of state in history

Womadelaide begins (on until 14 March) – Adelaide

Moomba Festival begins (until 14 March) – Melbourne

World Plumbing Day

Birthdays for media mogul Rupert Murdoch (1931) and twin musos Benji and Joel Madden (1979)

Anniversary of:
• John Howard being sworn in as PM (1996)
• the Madrid train bombings which killed 193 people (2004)
• an earthquake and tsunami in Japan that triggered the 2nd-worst nuclear accident in history at Fukushima nuclear plant (2011)
• Chinese President Xi Jinping being appointed president for life (2018)

Squiz the Day

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