Squiz Today / 28 February 2020

Squiz Today – Friday, 28 February


“Apple... they let you use iPhones in movies but - and this is very pivotal if you’re ever watching a mystery movie - bad guys cannot have iPhones on camera.”

Said director Rian Johnson ruining every movie that you might want to watch ever again…


It’s expected that tomorrow will see the US and the Taliban sign a deal that would begin the end of the war in Afghanistan after 18 years of conflict and nine years of on-again-off-again peace talks. It is the longest war in American history. It follows a truce that was brokered a week ago, and if it holds until tomorrow, a Taliban representative and America's special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad are expected to sign the agreement in Doha.

The Taliban - a hardline Islamic movement that turned into a formidable fighting force in Afghanistan - had control of most of the country from 1996. And in 2001, the Taliban came to the attention of the world after the 9/11 attacks in the US when it was revealed it was protecting al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. A month later, a US-led Coalition (including Australian troops) invaded Afghanistan, and two months after that, the Taliban regime had collapsed - but it didn’t die. An American-backed government was installed, and in 2004, presidential and parliamentary elections were held. But the limitations of Afghan forces and its government, a fierce Taliban resistance, and other countries' reluctance to keep their troops there (including Australia) has seen the war drag on. And on… The UN last year found 100,000 civilians had been killed in the war in the previous decade.

Let’s assume the deal will be signed… America would then reduce its troop count to 8,600 from around 12,000. And the Taliban would enter into direct negotiations with the Afghan government in a process would be ‘conditions-based’ - the biggest condition being the Taliban guarantees that Afghan territory is not used by terrorists. While some analysts are sceptical that peace will stick, reports say war-weary civilians are hopeful. “We want peace quickly, we want it soon, but we want it with prudence. Prudence is important so we do not repeat past mistakes,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said.



PM Scott Morrison has extended the travel ban again to prevent foreign nationals who have recently been in mainland China from entering Australia. And Morrison has jumped ahead of the World Health Organisation by assuming a pandemic will be declared and activating an emergency plan that elevates Australia's response to the growing COVID-19 outbreak. That means federal health officials will work more closely with their state counterparts to ensure there are adequate supplies and personal protective equipment. But for now, we should get out amongst it unworried about the risk of infection, the PM said. Other nations are also stepping up their containment strategies. An update to the global numbers: there are more than 82,500 confirmed cases (4,000 of them are outside China) and more than 2,800 deaths (170 outside China).


It's a nice friendship where New Zeelund and Oz take turns going to each other's place for an annual catch up. And, sure, NZ PM Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison have had their totes awks moments, but our relationship means we put that sort of thing behind us. And so it’s Ardern’s turn to traipse across the ditch to catch up with Morrison today to talk about some tricky issues as well as some easier ones. In column A, our policy of deporting Kiwis convicted of serious crimes, even if they only distant links to their home country. And in column B, we have joint interests in many areas, particularly our mutual concern about the rise of China in the Pacific region. Observers are also interested in how discussions on responding to climate change are tackled today. Watch this space…


Harry and Meghan don't have a monopoly on retreating… Canada has hosted the Sussexes for most of this year, and as recognised 'Internationally Protected Persons', its government has been required to protect the young family. But with the royals becoming private citizens on 31 March, there's been a lingering question about whether Canada would provide ongoing security at taxpayers expense. And this morning the answer is 'no'. Despite the "unique and unprecedented set of circumstances," the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will cease providing protection in the coming weeks, "in keeping with their change in status," the government says. Nothing's simple…


See ya, summer 2019-20. You sucked. Now that’s done, onwards and upwards. And it could be upwards for rain totals in large parts of southern Australia which have a 60-70% chance of wetter-than-average conditions during autumn, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. South Australia has missed out on the rain that’s fallen in other states earlier this year, so that’s an exciting prospect for them. The Top End is looking dry during autumn, but everywhere else is heading towards ‘average’. Which isn’t such a bad thing given we’ve had enough of ‘unprecedented’ conditions for a while… A roundup of what went down over the summer won’t be completed until after the official end to the season on Saturday, but the bureau says it’s set to be in the top three hottest summers on record.


Ahead of tomorrow, happy Leap Day. As the once-in-four-years 29 February gets set to come around again, there’s an important thing you should know. No, it’s not about the ladies getting down on one knee to ask their partners to marry them. And it’s not that straw-grabbing analysts say the extra day will do wonders for our economy. We’re not even here to tell you that it’s Frank Woodley’s 13th birthday. What you should know is that something better than hot chips is happening tomorrow - and that's free hot chips. You’re welcome...


This popped up in our Twitter feed this week - it’s a video of a dog flunking out of service dog school. And the other dogs watching and judging him - harsh. Poor Ryker… We’ve watched it over and over and cried with laughter each time. (PS music on.)

The Strategist - the New York mag's guide to smart shopping - is in the middle of Drugstore Week. Our favourite article has been 109 Famous People on Their 149 Favorite Drugstore Products. So much good stuff.

We had a piece of this cake this week, and it was amazing. Like, really outstanding. Chocolate, raspberries, not too sweet or heavy. We're making it this weekend.


From 5.35pm (AEDT) - AFLW and State of Origin for Bushfire Relief double header match - Melbourne

NZ PM Jacinda Ardern and PM Scott Morrison meet for our countries' annual bilateral meeting - Sydney

Enlighten Festival begins in Canberra (on until 15 March)

Anniversary of Francis Crick and James Watson discovering the chemical structure of DNA-molecule (1953)

Anniversary of the end of the Gulf War after Iraq accepts a ceasefire following their retreat from Kuwait (1991)

7.30pm (AEDT) - Sydney Mardi Gras Parade

10.00pm (AEDT) - International One Day Cricket - South Africa vs Australia - Paarl

Leap Day

US and Taliban set to sign a peace deal - Doha

South Carolina Democratic Primary

Rare Disease Day

Anniversary of the first people being accused of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts (1692)

Anniversary of Aussie swimmer Dawn Fraser recording the fastest 100m freestyle of her career; smashing her own world record of 58.9s (1964)

1.00pm (AEDT) - Netball for Bushfire Relief - Suncorp Super Netball All-Stars v Origin Australian Diamonds - Sydney

Clean Up Australia Day

World Compliment Day

International Children's Day of Broadcasting (UNICEF)

Zero Discrimination Day (UN)

Start of Hearing Awareness Week

Birthdays for Lupita Nyong’o (1983), Kesha (1987), Justin Bieber (1994)

Anniversary of Henri Becquerel's discovery of radioactivity (1896)

Anniversary of the US explosion of Castle Bravo, a 15 megaton hydrogen bomb at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. It accidentally became the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the US (1954)

Anniversary of colour television transmissions beginning in Australia (1975)

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