Squiz Today / 29 January 2021

Squiz Today – Friday, 29 January


"She has the hearing of a bat and can detect a packet of crisps being opened from four miles away..."

Said bird lover Chloe Shorten (no, not that one...) of Bud the Amazon green parrot who had to go on a strict diet after losing the ability to fly due to a chip obsession. Or it could be a line from our CV, we're not sure...


Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has condemned a meeting of neo-Nazis in the state’s Grampians national park. Reports yesterday said more than 40 men gathered near Halls Gap over the Australia Day long weekend with locals witnessing racist chanting and Nazi salutes. Police were called but said the men had not broken any laws. They are believed to be members of the National Socialist Network, a white supremacist group who believe in ‘Australia for the white man’ and have an anti-Semitic agenda - “evil and wicked” things, Andrews said.

Speaking on Holocaust Memorial Day on Wednesday, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said memories of “the darkest chapter in human history” were fading and anti-Semitism was on the rise. That’s backed up by our intelligence agencies which last year warned of the rise of right-wing extremism in Australia. ASIO deputy director Heather Cook said such cases made up 40% of the agency’s counter-terrorism caseload - up from 10-15% before 2016. She put the rise down to people spending more time online at home due to the pandemic, and interest in the Christchurch mosque attacks carried out by Australian Brenton Tarrant.

Interesting you ask… Right-wing extremism is reported to be on the rise across other Western democracies, putting global security agencies on edge. Just yesterday, the US Department of Homeland Security said the US is facing a growing threat from "violent domestic extremists" emboldened by the recent attack on the Capitol in Washington DC. The focus is on the far-right groups involved in those ugly scenes, insiders say. And a 16yo boy in Singapore, who had allegedly planned a Christchurch-inspired attack, was yesterday detained by authorities. Reports say he was planning to kill Muslim worshippers on 15 March - the tragedy's 2nd anniversary.



• Federal officials have extended the suspension of the travel arrangement with New Zealand until Sunday. The extent of the issue is still being assessed after 3 people tested positive to the highly-contagious South African strain of the virus earlier this week.

• Queensland will reopen its borders to all NSW residents on Monday after it recorded 11 days of no local cases. Victoria and South Oz are also removing travel restrictions on Sydney travellers from today and Sunday respectively. And international tennis players and officials here for next month’s Oz Open have started to leave hotel quarantine after a 2-week stint.

• This morning, Germany’s vaccine regulator has recommended the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine only be given to people younger than 65yo, citing a lack of trial data. Australia has pre-bought 53.8 million doses of the vaccine pending approval from our regulator, which is slated for next week. The plan is to vaccinate older and frontline Aussies first, so expect some questions on that front today.


Ahead of Federal Parliament’s return next Tuesday, Labor leader Anthony Albanese brought forward a frontbench reshuffle in response to mounting speculation. The biggest change - Albanese’s left-faction ally Mark Butler loses the climate change portfolio to right-aligned Chris Bowen. And deputy leader Richard Marles scored a super portfolio dedicated to COVID-recovery that ranges across several portfolios. The changes have been fashioned to quell reported unrest in Labor’s ranks over Albanese’s leadership as we head towards a federal election later this year or in the first half of the next.


Wall Street posted its worst day in 3 months yesterday after shares in US retailer Gamestop soared in what has been dubbed a ‘meme war’ between amateur and top-notch investors. The share price of the bricks-and-mortar games retailer - which last year was forced to close hundreds of stores due to poor sales - has jumped 1,915% this month following the push from the upstarts on the social news aggregator Reddit. That’s taken one protagonist’s $50,000 investment to now be worth US$47 million as Tesla boss Elon Musk egged it on. As Wall Street's most shorted stock, some pros have lost out big time because they bet on Gamestop's share price falling, as its lacklustre business performance would usually dictate. "It's a generational fight, redistributive and all about robbing the rich to give to the millennial 'poor',” analyst Neil Wilson said. Regulators, the White House, and the big investment houses say they’re keeping an eye on it. Kids these days…


For the first time in 5 years, Toyota has beaten Volkswagen’s sales to regain the title of world’s biggest manufacturer. While vehicle production and sales dropped last year (hello COVID…), Japan’s Toyota fared slightly better than its competitors based in Europe and the US. Globally, Toyota’s sales dropped 11.3% over the year to 9.528 million vehicles, while Volkswagen experienced a 15.2% drop to 9.305 million. But one sector of the industry that saw a surge in sales was electric vehicles. Tesla yesterday posted its first-ever annual profit. But it missed analysts’ expectations, and that’s led to further speculation Tesla's share price is too high. In the last year, the company’s value has soared to hover around $US800 billion - more than Toyota, Volkswagen, Daimler, General Motors, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, and Ford combined.


After launching in March last year as Australia first went into lockdown, the viral Facebook group 'Bin Isolation Outing' is no more. Starting as a dare among Hervey Bay friends to don a costume while taking out the bins, the group grew to almost a million followers. Creator Danielle Askew said it was a way for people to connect during the coronavirus lockdown, but after the relentless pressure of moderating the group (she says it took up 60 hours of her week…), she shut it down as 2021 kicked off. Recognised this week in the Fraser Coast Regional Council's Australia Day awards, Askew said she was glad it “made people smile”. Knowing how to go out on top - it’s a skill… Some highlights are here.


On the watching front, I May Destroy You. It's a comedy/drama about consent and race and a lot more. It's not light and breezy, but it is clever and its star/writer/director Michaela Coel is incredible. Which is why it's getting Fleabag-like buzz with the awards season coming up. Available on Binge.

We forgot to tell you. Someone got us this butter knife for Christmas, and it might just be the best thing since Barry the cheese grater.

The winning recipe this week - pork fillet with bok choy. We went light on the oil and upped the veg with some broccolini. Because for the next bit, we are those people…


The virtual Sundance Film Festival begins (on until 3 Feb)

ABS Data Release - Producer Price Indexes, December

Birthdays for Germaine Greer (1939), Oprah Winfrey (1954) and surfing legend Stephanie Gilmore (1988)

Birthdays for Christian Bale and Olivia Colman (1974)

Anniversary of:
• the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi (1948)
• the birth of the Ashes legend after the defeated English team is presented with the ashes of a bail (1883)
• The Beatles performing their last live gig on a London rooftop (1969)
• the WHO declaring COVID-19 as public health emergency (but not yet a pandemic…) (2020)

2.00pm (AEDT) - Kiwi travel bubble suspension runs out

Independence Day in Nauru

Tennis - Melbourne Summer Series begins (on until 6 Feb) - Melbourne Park

Birthdays for Portia de Rossi (1973) and Justin Timberlake (1981)

Anniversary of the United Kingdom officially leaving the European Union (2020)

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