Squiz Today / 27 March 2020

Squiz Today – Friday, 27 March


“It’s not a crime to be a d*ckhead, but it’s a time for common sense.”

Said Victoria's Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton of a bank worker who faked a coronavirus diagnosis shutting down the office. Don’t you wish our public officials would say what they thought for once?


Australia yesterday registered its deadliest day since the coronavirus crisis kicked off here in late January. Victoria recorded its first fatalities with three men aged in their 70s dying in Melbourne hospitals. And late yesterday, it was confirmed a Perth man in his 70s had also died. He was a passenger on the Celebrity Solstice cruise ship, which was one of those allowed to dock in Sydney last week. It takes the number of deaths across Oz to 13. The number of confirmed cases rose to 2,805 yesterday.

Hmm, it depends on who you talk to. If you were arriving at Sydney’s International Airport yesterday, you might have wondered if social distancing was a thing here. And the National Cabinet's decision to lift the 30-minute time limit on appointments (despite calls from the industry to be shut down) led some to speculate about the formidable political influence wielded by the hairdressing lobby… Speaking to the media yesterday, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said we’re world-leading in testing and the "scaleable, proportional response" the government had adopted was the way to go. But if new social distancing measures weren't obeyed, months of tougher restrictions would follow.

Our crystal ball is still in for a service… But with our two biggest states - NSW and Victoria - pushing for ‘hard and fast’ measures like school closures, the closure of ‘non-essential’ businesses and more, commentators speculate new restrictions might not be far away. But PM Scott Morrison and Co continue to push against widespread shutdowns because of the devastating economic consequences. And they point to new data showing the movement of people in Sydney and Melbourne falling by 75% since the first restrictions on public gatherings were announced a fortnight ago. National Cabinet (made up of the PM and state and territory leaders) meets again this morning, so hold onto your hats. Not that you’re wearing one because you’re inside at home, but you catch our drift…



• There are 14 cruise ships lingering off our coasts - 11 off NSW and three off Perth - with tens-of-thousands of people onboard. Reports this morning say those governments have given police the job of ensuring they do not dock.

• And there are 3,000 Aussies stranded on more than 30 cruise ships around the world. Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said the government is working on it... Speaking of Aussies abroad, it was confirmed overnight that commercial charter flights are being arranged to bring hundreds of our people home from Peru and Uruguay.

• It was another tough day for businesses and thousands of their employees with retailers owned by Premier Investments like Just Jeans, Peter Alexander and Smiggle shutting stores until at least 22 April. Also standing down workers was Flight Centre. Political leaders will consider underwriting some of the costs of retailers and small businesses at their meeting this morning, reports say.

• PM Morrison spoke to G20 leaders last night via teleconference with help for developing countries set for economic ruin because of COVID-19 top of the agenda. There’s been no confirmation that “sorry, you go” and “can the person with noise in the background please mute themselves" were two frequently used terms.

• There are now more than 510,000 cases worldwide, almost 23,000 people have died, and 121,000 people have recovered.


The Australian man accused of killing 51 people in a terror attack on two mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch last year has changed his plea from not guilty to guilty on all charges. Brenton Tarrant’s trial was scheduled for June but has now been scrapped in light of the plea change. Instead, he will be sentenced at a later date, which Kiwi prosecutors say will only take place when coronavirus restrictions have been lifted and it is possible for the survivors and victims' families to attend proceedings if they want. "These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, and other witnesses, the ordeal of a trial,” NZ PM Jacinda Ardern.


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been denied bail from his UK prison. In a London court yesterday, Assange's bail application was rejected because he'd resisted arrest and the prison where he is being held is following government advice on managing the coronavirus outbreak. His lawyers say his life is at risk from COVID-19 if he stays put and there’s an outbreak in prison because he is prone to suffering chest and tooth infections. On top of an unsuccessful day, Assange’s extradition hearing, which has been adjourned until 7 April, was pushed back further. The US is attempting to extradite Assange to face charges for publishing thousands of classified US diplomatic and military files.


Turkey has formally laid charges against 20 Saudis for their role in the murder of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018. Those among the charged are two men close to the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - former royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and former deputy head of intelligence Ahmed al-Asiri. While arrest warrants have been issued, the trial will be conducted in absentia with none of the suspects in Turkey. Saudi Arabia has rejected calls to send them there to face justice.

And while we’re in the region… The family of former FBI agent Robert Levinson confirmed he had died in custody in Iran. He had disappeared in 2007 while on an unauthorised CIA mission and was the longest-held hostage in US history. Iran has never acknowledged it had a role in Levinson's disappearance.


Australia’s two biggest magazine publishers are set to merge in a $40 million deal after the competition regulator yesterday gave them the go-ahead. Bauer, which publishes titles including Woman’s Day and Australian Women’s Weekly, will take over Seven West’s Pacific Magazines, which owns New Idea and WHO, after the ACCC said the merger would not significantly decrease competition and was in the best interests of the magazine industry. And who knows, with the interwebs going down all the time at the moment, maybe the deal has them primed to bring mags back… The decision comes as telcos TPG and Vodafone Australia confirmed their planned merger is still in the works despite disruptions from the coronavirus outbreak.


You know what you need right now? A self-improvement project, like learning how to doodle. And you probably think you already can, but watch Mo Willems’ Lunch Doodles and you'll realise you can't. And if drawing's not your thing, it's worth it for his superb hair…

And we alluded to it earlier, but we need this one - the dos and don'ts of online video meetings. Key tip: test your tech setting before wasting everyone’s time while trying to get your mic to work… It’s etiquette for the times.

And this weekend we’re dusting off a recipe that we can’t help but come back to over and over again. It’s the pikelets that our mum used to make, and it’s what a hug tastes like. Easy to make, top with a squeeze of lemon and light sprinkle of sugar. Simples.


Morning - National Cabinet meets

ABS Data Release - Shut the front door, Methodological News (March edition) is out…

World Theatre Day

International Whisk(e)y Day

Birthdays for director Quentin Tarantino (1963), singer Mariah Carey (1971) and singer Fergie (1975), actor Brenda Song (1988)

Anniversaries of:
• the patenting of kerosene (1855)
• Suharto succeeding Sukarno as president of Indonesia (1968)
• the worst aviation disaster in history when two Boeing 747s collide in Spain and 583 died (1977)

8:30pm to 9:30pm - Earth Hour

Horse Racing - Stakes Day (to be held with no spectators) - Sydney

Birthdays for Michael Parkinson (1935), Vince Vaughn (1970), Julia Stiles (1981) and Lady Gaga (1986)

Anniversaries of:
• the Louvre being open to the public (1794)
• the end of the Spanish Civil War (1939)
• China’s dissolution of the government of Tibet (1958)
• America’s worst commercial nuclear accident at Three Mile Island (1979)
• the world's largest dinosaur footprint found in Kimberley, Western Australia (2017)
• Cyclone Debbie made landfall in northeast Queensland (2017)

Neighbour Day

Birthdays for composer Vangelis (1943), Elle Macpherson (1964), Lucy Lawless (1968)

Anniversary of:
• the official opening of Royal Albert Hall by Queen Victoria (1871)
• Edmund Barton being elected our first Prime Minister (1901)
• Nelson Mandela being acquitted of treason after a 4½ year trial (1961)
• the discovery of the Terracotta Warriors (1974)

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